COLORADO SPRINGS. Sometimes success comes with being presented the right opportunities. Alexander Hamilton is a prime example, achieving great things thanks to the generosity of sponsors who provided him an education he couldn’t have accessed without financial assistance from generous benefactors. Now St. Mary’s High School is providing similar opportunities to students through its new Hamilton Scholar program.
The program will serve students who have what it takes to be high achievers but haven’t had access to opportunities that allow them to live out their full potential. These students — identified based on financial need and an aptitude test — will receive full tuition scholarships to attend St. Mary’s High School. Applications for the 2018-2019 Hamilton Scholars program are due Feb. 28. Interested families will find more information on the school’s website or can contact Jane Cummings, associate director of Admissions, at email@example.com or 719.635.7540.
“We at St. Mary’s recognize that there is a segment of the population that would benefit from a St. Mary’s education but cannot access it because of financial constraints,” said Patrick Carter, president of St. Mary’s High School. “The Hamilton Scholars program provides St. Mary’s a way to bridge the divide for families that our current financial aid program, which provides roughly $225,000 per year to students in need of assistance, cannot.”
Each year St. Mary’s will award to new students a limited number of full scholarships, which will be good for the duration of the students’ enrollment as long as the recipients meet the expectations of a St. Mary’s education. Those expectations include academic performance, participation in theology programs, and fulfillment of community service requirements. For the 2018-2019 school year, scholarships will be available to rising freshmen, sophomores and juniors who are new to St. Mary’s.
Families interested in accessing the Hamilton Scholar program will need to submit financial aid forms to establish financial need. Once need has been established, the student will take an aptitude test to identify academic ability.
The Hamilton Scholars program was the brain-child of Robert Delfeld, who graduated from St. Mary’s in 2015 and is now attending Williams College in Massachusetts. Delfeld said that the idea came to him during a gap year he was forced to take after high school graduation as he recovered from a bone marrow transplant.
“At core, the idea had its roots in both the love I have for the St. Mary’s family and my persistent belief that we can always be better,” he said. “Bringing in students of great promise who might not have otherwise had the means to attend [St. Mary’s] would be a win-win for everybody.”
Delfeld meant the naming of the program after Alexander Hamilton to be a reminder that community holds immense power in helping individuals succeed.
“Alexander Hamilton is rightly celebrated as the original American ‘self-made man,’ but we shouldn’t neglect the crucial role that community played in his meteoric rise,” Delfeld said. “Local leaders in St. Croix, recognizing him as a youth of promise, pulled together the funds to send Hamilton to school in the American colonies — the rest, quite literally, is history.”
The Hamilton Scholars program is also a way that St. Mary’s High School is staying true to its Catholic roots. The “Report on K-12 Catholic Schools in the U.S. and Underserved Populations” presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by its Committee on Catholic Education and Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church noted that making Catholic education available to families who cannot otherwise afford access to such schools reflects Pope Francis’ exhortation in Evangelii Gaudium to look for means to reach-out and serve the underserved in our communities.
“It’s another way we can live out our faith,” Carter said. “It also enhances the experiences of our students by expanding the socio-economic diversity of the school.”
While Delfeld put the initial proposal together for the St. Mary’s Board of Directors, he said that the program has become a collaborative effort between the faculty, staff, administration, and board. As the program gains momentum, Delfeld said he certainly hopes it will be successful, but that ultimately the success of the scholars themselves is what is most important.
“This program is the product of the whole St. Mary’s community working together — a true team effort, just as it should be,” he said. “The long-term success of the students who will soon be a part of the program requires a joint effort — on the part of both school and student — in the present; if we get that right, I’m absolutely certain it will bear great fruit in the future.”
St. Mary’s High School received a significant contribution to get the program started. To ensure the long-term viability of the program, St. Mary’s asks that donors interested in sponsoring a Hamilton Scholar student contact Joe Trechter, associate director of advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 719.635.7540.
(Amy G. Partain is director of communications for St. Mary’s High School.)