More likely, it was the fruits of one student's hard work and the help of a career counselor who dared to dream his dream.
Sequim High School senior Eric Huston is headed to South Bend, Ind., next fall to attend Notre Dame, fulfilling a nearly lifelong dream that seemed all but vanished just a few weeks ago.
Huston celebrated with other class of 2009 graduates-to-be at Sequim High's scholarship night June 3.
Sequim's seniors set another record for scholarships this spring, accumulating more than $2.4 million in help for college, including more than $300,000 in local scholarships.
Scholarships came from local service groups including the Masons, Rotarians, Elks, Lions and Kiwanians, plus dozens of community groups, foundations and local businesses.
High school seniors also welcomed a new scholarship from the North Olympic Hot Wheelers Association, and even a single student-targeted scholarship: the Friends of Sally Perkins.
Sequim High graduates-to-be are staying predominantly near home - 74 of the 110 scholarship winners picked in-state schools - yet others have designs on going out of state (Renee Brilhante to Jacksonville University; Hunter Gilliam and Andrea King to Brigham Young University of Idaho; Benjamin Ohnstad to the Colorado School of Mines; Amanda Tjemsland to Yale University) and still others are looking to pursue an education out-of-country (Angela Richards to Trinity Western in British Columbia; Mariana Azanza to the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico).
Three SHS grads are seeking at least a start to their careers in the U.S. Navy: Brittny Barnett, Shayne Livingston and Kenny Russell.
Principal Shawn Langston also highlighted Sequim High's four valedictorians, each
boasting a perfect 4.0 grade-point average: Olivia Boots, Laura Moser, Teyloure Ring and Huston, a student who recalls at a young age yearning to attend Notre Dame.
"I just like the whole atmosphere," Huston said following the ceremony. "It's a place where I'd fit in."
Huston went about earning the grades to get in and was accepted, but originally the university administrators bestowed only $10,000 per year in scholarships, far from the $50,000 annual cost to attend the United State's premier Catholic institution.
Enter Mitzi Sanders,
Sequim's career counselor. She figured the school had made a mistake and went about calling Notre Dame officials at the school and in Seattle to see if Huston could get some more help financially.
By early May, with Notre Dame's deadline passed, Huston went with his second choice, Washington State University. But Sanders got Notre Dame officials to reconsider, and Huston now has a $48,100-per-year scholarship to attend the university - plus another $20,000 in local, state and national scholarships.
"(Mitzi) put so much effort in," Huston said. "There are no words for the gratitude I have for what she did."
Huston plans to study aeronautical engineering.
His change in plans had a couple of bonuses. Since he'll attend school out of state, he declined his Washington State Scholar Award, which instead went to classmate Laura Moser.
This spring, Sequim High had all three Washington State Scholar Award winners from a district covering most of the Olympic Peninsula region and Washington coast; Langston said most years
Sequim is fortunate to get one.
In addition, thanks to her efforts to help Huston and countless others rack up
$10 million in scholarships in the past seven years, Sanders was presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship, a $1,000 award from the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club that goes to Rotary projects worldwide, in her name.
"Mitzi works diligently to get children scholarships," said Rotarian Al Friess. "She does an absolutely superb job. We say, 'Service above self.' And that's what she's done."
After the ceremony, Sanders said she was more than happy to help Huston fulfill his dream.
But maybe it was simply luck of the Irish. After all, Huston points out, his birthday is on St. Patrick's Day.
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