In October of 2018, thousands of high school seniors from across the country submitted their applications to the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. In January, two Northwest Indiana students achieved the coveted 2019 state scholar awards —Hailey Bianco and Vanesa Lozano, both from River Forest High School.
The Horatio Alger Association manages the largest scholarship program in the US, awarding scholarships to deserving students who have overcome adversity and demonstrate critical financial need. The awards provide $10,000 to each recipient, plus services to help students pursue a bachelor's degree. This scholarship is made possible by Horatio Alger Association members who also have experienced challenges, but ultimately overcame them to become successful business and civic leaders committed to ensuring the next generation can attain the American dream.
Bianco plans to attend North Park University next fall, where she will declare a communication major with a concentration in multimedia journalism. She hopes to one day start her own media brand.
“I’ve known for a very long time that I want to continue to work with media because I have developed an inspirational message that deserves to be heard. Media gives me that platform,” Bianco said. “I hope to explore my field more in depth while in college, but my dream career would be to run my own media company and develop a brand as an author, public speaker, and journalist.”
Bianco has spent the past couple years actively participating in student government and working with Ideas in Motion Media, experiences that she hopes will carry her to a successful career.
“It may seem like a hefty goal, but I’d like to help break the stigma surrounding the media during this time of fake news. I’d like to create work that promotes positivity and empowerment while delivering the unbiased truth,” Bianco said. “Our world always needs more positivity but it is also afraid of the truth, so I believe with my background in government programs and my work experience with Ideas in Motion Media, I can provide the perfect educated balance.”
Lozano will be attending Indiana University Bloomington as a first-generation college student. She also will be starting college right after graduation by taking part in the group scholars program, created to assist first-generation college students in the transition from high school to college. As of now, Lozano would like to work toward a career as a physical therapist.
“It feels natural to be of service to others. From a young age, I’ve always loved helping individuals when the chance arose almost as a coping mechanism when I couldn’t help myself,” Lozano said. “It may not appear a grand job to most, but I know I’d make a difference to people, whether it be aiding them through their injuries or having a simple conversation that brightens their day.”
Lozano took some time to reflect on what this scholarship means to her.
“It is a huge honor to have been selected for this scholarship that is based on academics, and also focuses on the adversities that shape students,” Lozano stated. “When I received the news that I was a Horatio Alger Scholarship Recipient, I almost burst into tears in class. To be recognized for my perseverance and dedication to school was a significant moment for me.”
Bianco explained her excitement upon receiving the news in the middle of one of her classes.
“It was one of the best feelings in my life to finally see my determination for overcoming my adversities pay off,” she said. “This scholarship completely changed my future, not just for the money, but for the services provided by the association for all recipients. This scholarship is a huge honor and a tribute to everything that I have worked so hard for my entire life.”