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Molokai Student Wins Prestigious Scholarships

Community Contributed

By Cheryl Corbiell

Molokai High School senior Sabrina Curtis was astounded to learn she will be attending Columbia University in New York for fall 2016, and was awarded three prestigious, national scholarships to relieve the financial burden. Curtis’ major will be in mechanical engineering with a minor in sustainability at the private, Ivy League university in Upper Manhattan, New York.

Post secondary education is not new to Curtis because for the past year Sabrina has successfully completed first year English and Math at University of Hawaii, Maui College, Molokai campus. With financial assistance from the Ho`oku`i program, Curtis began her post secondary education. Project Ho`oku`i, a statewide partnership between the Hawaii Department of Education and the University of Hawaii, provides financial opportunities for academically qualified students to attend post secondary education while still in high school.

“I had a taste of the demands of college courses,” said Curtis. “With higher-level writing and math skills, I had more confidence in applying for scholarships. As well, I had one more asset on my resume, with the completion of two university courses.”

Post secondary education is an investment in the future, but is costly. Curtis was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The competition is daunting because the applicant pool is over 50,000 students and only 1000 are selected,” said Curtis. This program provides students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education.

Curtis is also the recipient the Horatio Alger National Scholarship for exceptional high school students, and she was one of 106 recipients chosen this year. Lastly, Curtis received the Buick Achievement Scholarship, funded by the GM Foundation, which is awarded to only 50 students, who are successful inside and outside the classroom and pays up to $25,000 per year for four years.

“Students should not be afraid to apply to scholarships because if the student is a recipient, it is well worth the time and effort it takes to apply,” said Curtis.

Curtis’ advice to other students is simple: start the educational journey.

“Molokai students have opportunities to get college credits while being in high school and student programs, such as Ho`oku`i, help financially, but also ensures you get help if you need it. Although applying for scholarships and going to high school and college at the same time is demanding, it is worth the effort to start the post secondary journey before finishing high school,” she said.

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