Chase Graham, a senior at Boyd High School, is one of five Texas students to be awarded the 2013 Horatio Alger National Scholarship, a $40,000, four-year award to be used toward a bachelor’s degree.
Chase, the son of Connie and Doug Graham of Springtown, follows in the footsteps of his sister, Chelsea, who graduated last year from Boyd High School and also won the Alger Scholarship. She is currently attending Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, W. Va.
This year, the Horatio Alger Association selected 106 students from every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to receive National Scholarships.
The scholarship is accompanied by an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the 66th annual Horatio Alger award ceremonies April 4-6.
The students were selected because of the courage they demonstrated in overcoming personal challenges to attain academic success.
Graham said his sister’s success in getting the scholarship was the impetus for his application.
“After my sister received it, my mom told me we’re going to apply you for it, too,” he said. “I said ‘OK, but it didn’t seem very likely that a brother and sister would both get it, two years in a row.’
“Then at the beginning of January they called and said you received it,” he said, with a big grin on his face.
“I was in shock,” he added. “I couldn’t believe it. I’m really blessed. I’m happy they provided this for me. It will really help us with college.”
The scholarship is about overcoming obstacles – obstacles Graham and his family prefer not to talk about. But the path that led him to a leadership role in the class of 2013 at Boyd High School was a long and winding one.
“I just want to try to make good grades, be a top athlete and be a role model for others – just excel in general,” he said.
Graham’s family lived in Hawley, near Abilene, before moving to Springtown. He went to school there three years, then transferred to Boyd his freshman year.
At BHS, he is president of the Student Council, treasurer of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a member of the National Honor Society. He’s taking all dual-credit and Advanced Placement courses and ranks fifth in his class.
He especially enjoys the math, science and history classes and is hoping for a career in engineering.
“English has been my downfall,” he laughs. “But I have a great teacher [Melissa Allsup] who is very patient with me.
“I really like the faculty here. They’ll explain to you what you don’t understand. I’ve never been discouraged by anybody here.”
Graham’s excellence goes beyond the classroom. He was an All-District football player for the Yellowjackets and earned Academic All-State honors, helping lead the team deep into the playoffs once again.
He also runs the 400-meter and mile relay in track and throws the discus and the shot.
“I started running track to help my speed in football, and the weight events help, too,” he said.
Football is a possibility in college. Graham has looked at Texas A&M-Commerce and Southwestern University in Georgetown. But the books will come first.
His application for the Horatio Alger scholarship consisted in part of an essay telling how he hopes to give back to his community.
“I would like to use engineering to help people,” he said. “Help churches, Lottie Moon, Goodwill – help people get up and start going on their own, help people try. Hopefully, I’ll be blessed to do that. I like to help people and see people succeed.”
First-year principal Scott Nedrow says seniors like Graham are a great asset to the school.
“It helps when you have a great faculty and great students,” he said.
Texas’ other 2013 recipients of the Horatio Alger scholarship are Cassi R. Coffey of Chapel Hill High School in Whitehouse; Eric C. Ejiofor of Keller High School; Thomas V. Nguyen of Cypress Ridge High School in Houston; and Quentaxia Wrighting of Ozen High School in Beaumont.
“The Association is proud to salute men and women of exceptional achievement with the Horatio Alger Award, and we are grateful to them for joining in our efforts to enable more and more young people to achieve their own versions of the American Dream through higher education,” said Tony Novelly, president and CEO of the Horatio Alger Association.
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association provides college scholarships and mentorship to at-risk students who demonstrate courage in the face of adversity and dedication to pursuing higher education.
The Horatio Alger Association has awarded almost $100 million to nearly 20,000 scholars since the inception of its scholarship programs in 1984.