Douglas High School seniors apply for scholarships |

Douglas High School seniors apply for scholarships

by Merrie Leininger

Of the 101 seniors who want to attend college in Nevada after graduation, many will benefit from the millennium scholarship.

Douglas High School counselor Carolyn Porter said not all the 175 seniors who had a 3.0 grade point averages or higher going into this last semester will take advantage of the annual $2,500 scholarships awaiting them.

Gov. Kenny Guinn introduced the millennium scholarship last year as a way to use money the state gained from lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers. One criteria is a senior must have attended at least two years of high school in Nevada. The scholarship is intended to keep Nevada students in Nevada schools, and it seems to have worked.

Stephanie Webb, 17, a DHS senior will probably use the scholarship to go to the University of Nevada, Reno. She said before the scholarship came about, she was planning to go to college out-of-state to study forensic psychology.

“I definitely would have gone to college, but not in Nevada. But because of the scholarship, I felt it was the best choice,” Stephanie said. “It’s really going to help me out.”

Stephanie said that since she has decided to attend UNR, the college has come through with other financial aid.

Dan Hickman, 18, said he feels the scholarship is a good way to make use of the tobacco money.

“I think it would benefit the state to continue the scholarship, even after the tobacco money is gone. I think it definitely keeps more students in Nevada,” he said.

Dan already had plans to go to UNR before he heard about the scholarship, but he thought he would have to work more during college and he said it probably would have taken him longer to finish.

Dan wants to study chemistry and possibly work with the Environmental Protection Agency after graduation.

Kyle Wentz, 18, was planning on going far away from Nevada after graduation – Oregon State University and San Diego University were schools he thought about.

“Originally, I wanted to go out-of-state to get a change, but I couldn’t really afford it,” he said. “My parents wanted me to go to UNR all along because it’s close and that’s where my mom went to school.”

The scholarship has changed his direction completely. Now he will go to UNR to get his secondary education degree, and he hopes to teach and coach in a school like DHS.

“I recently decided I want to stay in this type of environment and teach kids this age,” he said.

Wentz said the scholarship has been a benefit to many kids like him.

“Anytime you can provide education to a wide amount of students is absolutely a good thing. I couldn’t think of any better way to use that money,” he said.

– Eligibility. Porter said while these three students are confident they will receive the scholarship because of their high GPAs, other students may have to attend summer school before they will know for sure if they will get the money.

Susan Moore of the millennium scholarship office said the treasurer’s office will be sending out award letters to any students with a 3.0 and above July 7. From there, the students attending Nevada schools will have to sign an acceptance letter and return it to the treasurer’s office.

Moore said she is excited to be getting to the point that students will be receiving the funds.

In February, her office sent out 18,000 letters to every high school senior. But graduation is one of the major requirements, so applicants will not get official notification until July 7. The school districts will notify the treasurer’s office of students who pass summer school or proficiency tests in the summer.

“We’ve spoken to your superintendent’s office the day before yesterday in order to get that data in as soon as possible in August to capture students who passed in June or July after summer school. The districts will be sending us additional information as soon as they are able to,” Moore said. “They will receive an award packet. It will have a letter from the governor and treasurer and then a paper called ‘acknowledgement of award’ to send back in and say ‘I understand I’m eligible and I’ve read the rules about maintaining eligibility’ and they sign a form saying they want to activate the award. Then the institutions will be free to disburse the funds.”

Moore said if a student has other financial aid, that money will be applied to tuition first, so if money from the scholarship is left over, a check will be cut to the student.

Moore said there is a finite amount of tobacco money, but the treasurer’s office is investing some of it and working with private corporations and donors in order to continue the program as long as possible.