Our 2017 Scholarship Recipients: Independent, Hardworking, Creative & Inspiring

“I definitely feel prepared to take on the college world and I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other.”

The feedback we’ve received from students in blended and online learning programs says it all: autonomy, variety, pacing and a personalized approach has changed their lives.

We’re thrilled to continue to be a part of this movement. This fall, 30 members of the Class of 2017 will have additional support for their endeavors in a four- or two- year college or vocational training program.

They’re part of our most recent Student Scholarship cohort, which we announced with much excitement; these high school graduates represent 14 states across the U.S. and a wide variety of academic and extracurricular interests.

They come from traditional public schools, charter schools and private institutions; some have learned in a hybridized blended/face-to-face program, while others have studied entirely online. Here are just a few things they had to say about the experience:

“Online learning gave me the opportunity to take education into my own hands; it has also given me the freedom to study where I want.”

“I did projects differently and did assignments in a totally different way, and was stretched as an individual.”

“Both of my online classes rebuilt my confidence in myself, and my ability to learn complex ideas quickly.”

Soon, we’ll kick off a series of posts featuring their inspiring stories and videos right here on the blog.

Meanwhile, recognizing the hard work and creativity of students from all kinds of communities and educational backgrounds is also incredibly rewarding for our team.

Amy Valentine, our executive director, acknowledged the remarkable abilities our scholarship recipients possess thanks to their nontraditional learning experiences.

“These scholars are entering both their post-secondary education and the workforce with an expanded set of learning skills thanks to the innovative programs of study they chose to follow. Supporting their continued academic success and sharing their stories underscores the foundation’s efforts across all of our programs.”

While a general shift away from the ‘factory model’ of K-12 education has been unfolding, these students have boldly embraced new pedagogical models. With increased student agency, they have become leaders of their own educational experiences.

Entering postsecondary education with a level of self-direction and a breadth of curricula likely unmatched in traditional education represents a major opportunity.

Dr. Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education and a member of the foundation’s Board of Directors, added that

“blended and online learning programs have the potential to close enormous opportunity gaps that persist for historically underserved students. When schools are able to better compensate for geographic and experiential variation through the thoughtful integration of technology, students such as our Arkansas, Idaho, and West Virginia scholarship recipients can walk onto a more level playing field when progressing to college and career opportunities.”

This is echoed by our scholars as well, with emphasis on the opportunity that blended and online learning creates.

“As a student who lives in a rural area and goes to a small school, we don’t have many classes to choose from. Online learning gave me the opportunity to take classes I never would’ve been able to take.”

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Has blended or online learning impacted your education, or your teaching? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your guest blog post ideas to kristidepaul@gmail.com.