As high school seniors begin their final year of school, many are clueless about what they want to do next. Some have an idea, but may be unsure of how to take that next step.
Still, others are fully prepared and have a clear path in mind. Kayla Furby is one that knows what she wants and is going after it.
"One of my main goals for senior year was receiving the Horatio Alger National Scholarship," Kayla said. "I was very excited when I got the phone call saying I was one of the 106 National Scholars this year!"
The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is a nonprofit, educational organization that honors the achievements of outstanding individuals and encourages youth to pursue their dreams through higher education. Since the establishment of its scholarship program in 1984, the Horatio Alger Association has awarded more than $100 million in undergraduate, graduate and specialized scholarships to students from across the United States. In 2014 alone, the Association will award $9 million to its National Scholars.
These scholarships recognize outstanding students, who, in the face of great adversity, have exhibited an admirable commitment to continuing their education and serving their communities. In addition, scholars must come from a household with an average income of $15,000 per year and have an average GPA (grade point average) of 3.8.
The application process was a lengthy one and Kayla said it took her three weeks to complete all the paperwork. "Instead of just one essay, like most scholarship applications, I had to write three or four for this one," she said.
One of the essays had to be about a Horatio Alger member she admired. "I chose Oprah Winfrey," she said, "because, like me, she was raised by her grandmother. Her grandma taught her how to read and she really appreciated that."
Kayla has lived with her grandma, Sherry Furby, in Rosedale since she was very young. And like Oprah, Kayla's grandma has supported her in every endeavor, helping her to become the well-rounded, self confident person she is today.
Kayla was the 2013 Farm Bureau Farm Show Ambassador and has been a member of 4-H since she was young. She has always been active in sports, playing soccer in her earlier years, and softball and basketball, and cheering in high school. She is the Vice President of the National Honor Society at GCHS and Vice President of the Senior Class. Kayla was ranked 6th in her class and has an overall GPA of 3.94.
Now, as she looks forward to beginning her college career at West Virginia Wesleyan, the $21,000 scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association will help her on her way. She was also chosen for a Presidential Scholarship from Wesleyan in the amount of $16,000.
Furby plans to earn a degree that will allow her to become a physical therapist. "After an injury in softball, I had to have physical therapy for three months," said Kayla. "That's when I became interested in it. So, I volunteered with Dr. Kevin Boring this summer and I learned a lot."
In addition to the money, Kayla will go to Washington, D.C. in April on an all-expense paid trip where she will attend the Horatio Alger Association's annual three-day event. While she's there, she will meet the other 106 recipients of the scholarship this year and learn more about various support programs she will have access to as a National Scholar.
"It will be nice to meet other teens and learn about the issues they have overcome in life," said Kayla.
The young lady is one of three GCHS students to ever receive this scholarship and the only person from West Virginia to earn the honor this year.
For more information on the Horatio Alger Association and its 2014 National Scholars, visit https://www.horatioalger.org.