The semi-finalists list for the Boettcher Scholarship has been released and St. Mary’s High School has two seniors on the list. Paulina Menichiello and Ben Cloud have gathered their letters of recommendation, which are due Monday, and now they wait.
Menichiello said she was shocked when she learned of her semi-finalist status.
“I need as much scholarship money as I can get,” she said. “I want to help my family out, especially since I have two younger sisters who will go to college.”
For Cloud being a semifinalist is an honor, while at the same time being nerve-wracking.
“I’m approaching it by acknowledging that it has already been such an honor,” Cloud said. “So regardless of what happens, it’s an experience that I’ve already appreciated.”
The Boettcher application process is intense, Cloud said. Only the top 5 percent in the senior class are able to apply. Then applicants must submit an essay. Semifinalists have to gather three letters of recommendation. Those who go further will have to do an interview.
“The essay process was hard,” Menichiello said. “I wrote about my service opportunity with Bright Star Dream. I just wrote about how much it’s meant to me.”
Cloud said he probably spent 50 hours working on his application. “I just kept going over it with people and rephrasing things,” he said. “In the end it was 18 pages long.”
The Boettcher Foundation awards 40 scholarships each year, providing essentially a full-ride to any four-year university in Colorado. More than 1,300 students apply for the scholarships each fall. Since the scholarship program started in 1952, more than $60 million dollars in scholarships has been awarded.
Cloud loves the idea of the scholarship. He said that he loves the state of Colorado and would love to attend college here. He also loves the idea of being close to family and the activities he loves, like skiing.
“It’s a great idea—to keep Colorado’s ‘best and brightest’ in the state for college,” he said. “It would be a great honor to receive the scholarship and to be a part of a foundation that upholds standards of integrity, morals, and work ethic.”
Now Menichiello and Cloud wait to see if they will move on. They should hear sometime in February.
“I’m a nervous person so I’m trying not to freak myself out,” Menichiello said. “Although I do forensics, I find it hard to talk about myself so I know the interview will be a challenge for me if I move on.”
While both say the wait will be hard, they have plenty to keep them busy. They are active in community service projects, involved in school activities and organizations, and diligent in their academic studies. And those things, Cloud said, are truly what life is about.
“Playing basketball, hanging out with my teammates, playing golf with my best friend, and volunteering, those are the things that give my life purpose,” he said. “If you only do things for self, you, first, don’t get to experience others and, second, you don’t know the feeling of being a part of something. That’s what I love—the feeling of being a part of something.”
By Amy G. Partain, Communications Associate
St. Mary’s High School