For college bound seniors, the final year of high school is often filled with challenging courses that test one's character and one's determination, but perhaps the biggest challenge of all is figuring out how to pay for college.
"College tuition these days is astronomical," said Michelle Mazanec, Osseo High School college and career specialist. "If a student is thinking about even applying to a private school, they're looking at upwards of $40,000 per year.
The high cost of college is what motivated Osseo High School seniors Olufunmilayo Arogbokun and Elizabeth Johnson to doggedly pursue scholarships this year all while maintaining nearly perfect grades and pursuing leadership roles at school with groups ranging from National Honor Society to Diversity Council and Senior Leadership Team.
"When I think of those two [students], I think they're the ones who sort of make things happen here," said Mazanec. "They're a really great part of our student culture."
For all their hard work, Arogbokun and Johnson recently recieved the ultimate prize by being named Gates Millennium Scholars. The full-ride scholarship will cover the cost of college and graduate school. Arogbokun and Johnson were selected from a nationwide pool of 23,000 applicants for the Gates Scholarship.
"I'm just so honored, only a thousand people in the country get this scholarship," said Johnson. "I'm grateful, and it's an amazing opportunity."
"It's a huge blessing because now the stress of trying to figure out what school I want to go to, how I want pay for it, I don't have to think about that," said Arogbokun. "I can put more of my energy and more of my focus into what I want to do, and why I want to do it."
Arogbokun is now headed to Butler University for a doctorate in pharmacy. She then plans to get a masters degree in public health policy from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
Johnson is headed to the University of Minnesota-Morris for an advanced degree in library science.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
Thursday, May 17, 2012