Three local high school students, one from Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale and two from Coal Ridge High near New Castle, are among a select number of students named to the 2022 class of Daniels Scholars.
The prestigious Daniels Fund is offering $100,000 scholarships to students in Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado. Among the thousands of applicants this year vying for the opportunity were Coal Ridge seniors Navaeh Williams and Sergio Jaquez Caro, and Roaring Fork senior Bryon “Scottie” Bohlender.
Although they now share something in common, the accomplished journeys of Bohlender, Williams and Caro are each unique.
Bohlender grew up in Carbondale, one of seven children including four older siblings, and will be the first to attend college. He went to Carbondale Community School for elementary and middle school, before completing his four years of high school at Roaring Fork. His parents are Gabriela Jimenez and Bryon Bohlender.
He has already been accepted to three different universities, two out-of-state and one in-state, and is awaiting word from a fourth before making his decision.
“I always try to find the right person, but now that I don’t have to worry too much about the financial part, I can focus on location, experience and where I think I will be at. comfortable,” Bohlender said.
Some of those options are in the Pacific Northwest, but he admits he’ll have a hard time leaving his 2-year-old sister at home when the time comes.
Either way, Bohlender said he wanted to study medicine, starting with a nursing degree.
“It’s been my dream since I was probably 8 years old, and in my freshman year I was thinking about medical school,” he said. Eventually, he said, he might pursue medical school in cardiology or neurosurgery, but a career forum hosted by his school counselor, Liz Penzel, got him thinking in a different direction.
One of the panelists indicated that there is currently more need for nurses than doctors, he noted.
“I feel like if I can become a nurse and help the world with this great need, then I will have accomplished something to be proud of,” Bohlender said.
He said his interests lie in how the human body works and in learning about physiology and anatomy.
“I grew up in an environment where I saw a lot of people get hurt, including my family, and I’m kind of fascinated by that and helping people who are in that situation,” said Bohlender.
Penzel wrote one of Bohlender’s reference letters for the Daniels Fellowship.
“He overcame tremendous challenges to be where he is today because of what he’s been through in his life,” Penzel said. “His emotional IQ and maturity are beyond that, and he’s naturally curious, intelligent and driven.”
She said Bohlender is a perfect fit for the Daniels Fellowship because the program intentionally seeks students who want to give back to their community and who have demonstrated strong values and a strong work ethic.
Bohlender, 17, said he appreciated the support he received throughout the application process and that it was important for his family to be selected for the scholarship.
“Now my mom doesn’t have to support me so much, and she can support herself, the baby, and my other sister (a freshman at RFHS) so they can grow and have a comfortable life,” he said. “I feel like I care about them more than a lot of things, and I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”
Sergio Jaquez Caro
Caro comes from a working-class Mexican family that came to the United States between the 1980s and 1990s, he said. His father, Martin, was one of six children who grew up on a ranch in Mexico where he attended high school.
Martin is now a bricklayer, while his wife, Gabriela, stays home to care for the family, Caro said.
“(Martin) would have liked to be a teacher,” Sergio said. “I think going to college and enjoying the opportunity he wished he had is something that I really prioritize.”
Caro, 18, is heading towards graduation maintaining a 4.25 grade point average. Such high merits are partly an effort to show his parents appreciation for their journey.
Caro’s father lived on a ranch in Mexico before traveling to the United States, Caro said.
Caro is heading towards graduation with a 4.25 grade point average. In the fall, he goes to the University of Denver to study business and international relations.
His ambition is to one day become US Secretary of State or work in government in another position, such as the intelligence community or foreign affairs.
“I think cooperation between other countries is something that really interests me, and I would like to dedicate my life to it,” Caro said.
Caro was compelled to pursue the Daniels Fellowship in part based on her motto of serving the community. Caro, also a member of the National Honor Society, says the Daniels Fund transcends the National Honor Society.
As a Spanish speaker, Caro said being a Daniels Scholar helps strengthen relationships within Garfield County’s diverse community.
“I think trying to break down that language barrier would be a good priority in trying to build intertwining within our community,” he said.
“If I don’t achieve my goals, I’m still happy with the impact I’m having and the work I’m doing for the world.”
Williams comes from a devout religious background. Before moving to Silt at the age of 11, Williams grew up as a missionary child in Uganda.
She described this period of her life as living in a very open community, where everyone knows each other and lives in huts made of mud and straw.
“It shaped what I want to do today, I think,” Williams said of her time in Africa.
At first, the 18-year-old thought applying for the Daniels Fund was a daunting task. Although she has a 4.4 GPA and is president of the National Honor Society, Williams said one of her professors had to convince her to even apply.
So when Williams found out she had indeed received the scholarship, she was beside herself.
“I kind of started freaking out,” she said. “I was so excited, I was in disbelief.”
Williams also said she was very grateful to have received the Daniels Fund because the school she wants to go to is expensive.
“I don’t know if I would be able to leave without the scholarship,” she said. “So I’m really, really grateful and I’m so excited to go to college.”
Williams plans to attend George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, where she will study music education and sociology. In addition to wanting to become a music teacher, Williams said she also wants to work with victims of human trafficking and refugees.
“It wasn’t what we were doing in Uganda, but growing up surrounded by helping people in economic poverty, it kind of inspired me to want to do something similar,” she said. .