The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. has announced the 2021 recipients of its $25,000 Horatio Alger National Scholarships. Out of tens of thousands of applicants, Hailey Thorlakson, a senior at Langdon Area High School, was one of just 106 students from across the country to receive this prestigious scholarship.
“I first learned of the scholarship through our senior scholarship advisor, Marnie Thielbar,” explains Thorlakson. “This was one of the many scholarship opportunities she sent out to my class via email.”
“I am so happy to learn that Hailey Thorlakson was one of the recipients of the 2021 Horatio Alger National Scholarships,” said Thielbar. “Hailey is a very deserving student who has been committed to her education and has been a great leader in the many activities she has participated in throughout high school.”
The Horatio Alger National Scholarship recognizes students who have remained committed to continuing their education and giving back to their communities while overcoming adversity and navigating the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The scholarship application process is a lengthy one. The steps include personal information, academic information, volunteer information, letter of recommendation, along with a few short responses and several essays.
Through the application process, Thorlakson was able to demonstrate a skill and passion for leadership and volunteering in the community.
“Many in the community have likely seen Hailey and her sisters volunteering throughout the community while in high school,” said Thielbar. “Hailey has logged over 275 hours of volunteerism during her high school career.”
“Volunteering keeps me connected within my community,” said Thorlakson. “I have the opportunity to assistant coach the girls 14U softball team, help out with Vacation Bible School, and play piano for the residents of the Maple Manor Nursing Home.”
Thorlakson loves being involved. She is an officer on the North Dakota Association of Student Councils executive board, president of the Junior Bank Board, and a co-president of the LAHS Student Council. She is an officer in the LAHS FCCLA chapter and choir, and participates in the LAHS speech team, drama club, National Honor Society, knowledge bowl and AcOlympic competitions, Sources of Strength, band, and North Dakota Leadership Seminar.
Though the pandemic has affected all students in many ways, especially extra-curricular activities, Thorlakson is grateful that most of her activities can still be pursued with restrictions and modifications.
“Although this crazy, chaotic time has taken many things from me, my classmates, and my peers,” shares Thorlakson, “a valuable lesson can be learned. Because of this pandemic, I have learned the importance of adapting to change. Change often has a negative connotation because it is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Because of the multiple ways COVID-19 has forced me to adapt, I have realized how essential it is to be able to embrace change.”
The Horatio Alger Association was established in 1947 to dispel the belief among young people that the American Dream was no longer attainable. Since the establishment of its scholarship programs in 1984, the Horatio Alger Association has become one of the largest privately-funded, need-based scholarship providers in the United States and Canada. This scholarship will apply toward the educational costs of the college or university of Thorlakson’s choice. Following graduation in May 2021, Thorlakson plans to attend the University of Mary and double major in communications and business. She will also have access to a variety of association-provided resources including counseling and referral services, career exploration opportunities and alumni connections.
When it is safe to do so, each National Scholar will receive a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Horatio Alger National Scholars Conference (NSC) and participate in college preparedness and other educational sessions. There, scholarship recipients will have an opportunity to learn about the Horatio Alger Association, its esteemed members, and the various support programs in which they can partake during their collegiate careers.
“I have no doubt that Hailey will continue to do great things and be successful in her college career,” said Thielbar. “She is very deserving of this scholarship, and I wish her the best of luck!” Thielbar also has some advice for this year’s senior class.
“I strongly encourage all seniors to continue applying for scholarships,” said Thielbar. “There will be many local scholarships being announced in the coming months, and they will be emailed to each senior and will be posted on the bulletin board in the senior hallway. Please check your college’s website for scholarship opportunities as well. Due to COVID-19 we were unable to have our scholarship recognition program last spring, but we are hopeful that we will be able to have the program this year during the last week of school. Thank you to the many organizations, foundations, and families who have made scholarships available for the Langdon Area seniors to apply for.”