Kristin Kelly, a senior at Hickman High School, was surprised to receive the Presidential Scholarship from Columbia College on Wednesday at school.
The scholarship, which covers full tuition over a four-year period, is valued at $97,280, according to Columbia College’s website. Kelly is one of 10 high school students to receive the scholarship.
Kelly said she thought she was going to be accepted into the college because of her high school GPA and ACT score, but the scholarship was a surprise.
“This is just like a really big blessing to be able to not stress as much,” she said. “It’s still great to be able to go to college in my hometown.”
Kelly’s parents, Kevin and Bobbie Kelly, were present when Jackson Portell, an enrollment counselor for Columbia College’s admissions department, presented her with the scholarship.
“We’re really excited. We have six kids, so they have to pay for their own college,” Bobbie Kelly said. She said Kristin’s older sister also attends Columbia College, and “it’s great to have two girls going to the same school.”
Bobbie said Kristin had been saving for college for three years, and Kristin said she had been applying for scholarships since August.
Matt Ross, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Hickman High School, said Kelly “is just an amazing student that exemplifies our four pillars here: tradition, integrity, diversity and excellence.” Ross was her assistant principal for her first three years at Hickman. “She was always taking care of business and doing what she needs to do to be successful,” he said.
Portell said students have to participate in Scholarship Day on Columbia College’s campus as well as have a 3.6 weighted cumulative high school GPA and a 26 or higher on the ACT in order to win the scholarship. Scholarship Day, according to Columbia College’s website, is “an interview and essay competition for new students to compete for funding to help pay for college.”
Portell said after students submit the required documents and essays, the next step is an interview at the college and a few more essays while on campus for Scholarship Day. After that, the students are reviewed for the scholarships. About 50 students competed this year, Portell said.
The scholarship is open to both domestic and international students.
“Typically, we’ll have at least one or two international students winning the full-tuition scholarships,” Portell said.
Kelly was the second student to be surprised with the Presidential Scholarship this year.