Sherry Washburn

Staff Writer

Columbus Unified High School Senior Nicole Gilmore has been named a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger National Scholarship. Gilmore is one of only 104 recipients from the entire nation.

Gilmore will receive a $20,000 scholarship to the four-year college of her choice. The Horatio Alger Scholarship Program is one of the Nation’s largest need-based scholarship programs. According a document from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, recipients of the scholarship have “exhibited integrity, academic promise, and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity.”

Three separate essays were required on the scholarship application. In the first the applicant addressed the adversities they have overcome. The second explains the applicant’s plans for college and career. The last essay requires the applicant to compare areas of their life with that of an association member.

Gilmore has faced numerous obstacles in her life. Her mother, Nancharee — who is originally from Thailand — spoke no English when she first came to the United States, so it was difficult for her to find employment. When Nicole and her twin sister Sean were seven their parents went through a divorce and their father died when the girls were 10.

By that time, their mother had become a U.S. citizen, but employment opportunities were still hard to come by. One place Nancharee Gilmore worked closed down, and she was laid off at another, causing some financial difficulties. However, Nicole maintains a 4.0 grade point average, completing the Kansas Board of Regents Scholarship Curriculum and all honors and weighted courses. She is also active in many school and extracurricular programs.

She has participated in FCCLA, FEA, Soundwave, and numerous other school, church and community activities.

During her sophomore and junior years Gilmore volunteered her time leading junior high students at Weir Baptist Camp, where she dedicated her life to Christ as a child. Helping at the camp, she was able to help another young girl whose father had died.

 She said she has been able to tell others about how she over came the obstacles in her life through Christ. In an essay she said, “by participating at this church camp, I have been given the opportunity to do what God has destined for me. I believe that he is molding me into the person he wants me to be, a future social worker.”

In April, she and the other award recipients will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored at the Horatio Alger Awards ceremony.

According to a news release, award winners will “attend college preparation sessions, listen to esteemed speakers, participate in ceremonies at the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Department of State and DAR Constitution Hall.”

Also while in Washington D.C., Gilmore will have the opportunity to meet with the 2011 recipients of the Horatio Alger Award. Among this years recipients are Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

In that same news release, Tony Novelly, president and CEO, Horatio Alger Association, said “We are proud to welcome our 2011 National Scholars. These young individuals have persevered through great adversities in their lives, and they clearly represent the Horatio Alger ideals. The Association is proud to help deserving students find continued success in education and throughout life.”

Gilmore hopes to work this summer to raise additional funds for her education. She plans to attend either the University of Kansas or Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. where she will study social work.