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Congratulations are owed to the six 2021 high school seniors who are recipients of a Central Colorado Humanist scholarship of $1,000. All are high-achieving students with grade point averages exceeding 3.9. According to the scholarship committee, these six young women exemplify the values of the Central Colorado Humanists: informed by science; guided by reason; inspired by art and nature; motivated by compassion.

Aja Hogan. Courtesy photo.

All of them wrote compelling essays about the integrity of science. Not all have confirmed the college of their choice, but it seems that they had multiple acceptances. 

Aja Hogan from Buena Vista High School is her school’s Senior Class President and also a member of the National Honor Society. She also is a member of the basketball, cross country, and track teams.

She describes herself as “very passionate about helping others who are less fortunate than me, and a degree in International Development could open up amazing opportunities to do so.”

Valeria Amanda Fallas Zuniga, from Cotopaxi High School, hopes to study biomedical engineering. She will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder.

Valeria Amanda Fallas Zuniga, Courtesy photo.

She has served on the student council, played volleyball, participated in the Knowledge Bowl, is a member of the National Honor Society and is a volunteer at the Alliance. Amanda speaks several languages and recently taught herself Russian prior to participating in a Russian exchange program.

She has also received numerous awards for her artistic aptitude. Her hope is that her “university education will help me to be one of those who understand the truths of science and thus be able to show others how it works.”

Allyna Bright from Salida High School is a member of the National Honor Society. She is on the swim and tennis teams.

Allyna Bright. Courtey photo.

Allyna has also been working as a lifeguard, waitress, and in retail sales. She plans to major in psychology and anthropology.

Allyna believes that “receiving higher education, will allow me to develop a broad background in current and past scientific research… learn new ideas and concepts, which will enable me to understand the world better. I will follow the facts, provide the evidence, draw valid conclusions, and create the respect and integrity that science truly deserves”

Cassidy Gillis is a senior from Salida High School. Along with her outstanding academic record, she has been active in the Mountain Bike Team, Interact Club, ski and track teams. She served on Student Council and is a member of the National Honors Society.

Cassidy Gillis. Courtey photo.

Gillis is editor-in-chief of the Tenderfoot Times. Her volunteer activities and numerous jobs throughout her high school years have prepared her for a major in environmental studies with the hope of one day becoming an environmental lawyer.

“[my education] will assist me by broadening my knowledge base, opening new avenues of thought, and hopefully teaching me to weed out all the preposterousness of the media. The only way we can stop the spread of falsified facts is by educating people on discerning the truth.”

Hadley Ross is graduating from Buena Vista High School. She has been a member of the National Honor Society and Odyssey of the Mind. She has participated in student government and has been a member of the volleyball and soccer teams.

Hadley Ross. Courtesy photo.

Her goal is to become a secondary education science teacher and she hopes that “My pursuit of higher education will assist in restoring scientific integrity through education. With my college education and extensive knowledge of science, I will be able to walk into my classroom daily and help America’s youth find the truth and a respect for science.”

Reece White has successfully completed several college-level courses in addition to her high school curriculum at Salida High School. She has competed on the soccer team and was President of the GSA Club.

Reece White. Courtesy photo.

In addition, she worked as a volunteer for Guidestone and for Colorado Parks and Wildlife while also working at the Animal Care Center. She plans to major in biology or biochemistry and to become a veterinarian.

“Continuing my education by attending college, in which I have already embarked, will allow me to further access and discern science and facts from scientists and educators who are credible to increase my understanding of the world.”

The Humanists say they also congratulate continuing students who received scholarships last year and will receive an additional $1,000 toward their sophomore year of study.  The students overcame many challenges brought about by the pandemic.

They had little personal contact with other students and professors and were unable to participate in community and extracurricular activities because most were canceled. Much of their learning took place online and in Zoom classes. “Yet, their internal motivation and personal determination led them to persevere and reach high academic standards,” said Central Colorado Humanists Scholarship Chair Gene Marsh.

Amelia Tonnesen – University of Northern Colorado

Finley Petit – University of California Santa Barbara

Madison Patch – University of Colorado Boulder

Rebecca Ogden – Mesa State University