Two high-achieving high school seniors from the area have been awarded full-ride scholarships to Southwest Minnesota State University as part of the President’s Regional Scholars Award program.
Olivia Blaskey from Jackson County Central High School and Aaron Rojas from Adrian High School will receive full-ride scholarships starting in fall semester 2022. The scholarships are for four years. The students were selected through a combination of their outstanding academic achievements and interviews with SMSU faculty, staff and President Kumara Jayasuriya.
The scholarships are the top tier of awards of the President’s Regional Scholars Award program launched in November 2019. There are six scholarship levels to the Regional Scholars program and range from $4,000 to a full ride over four years.
Blaskey is the daughter of Nicholas and Amy Blaskey from Lakefield. She has several teachers who are SMSU alumni tell her about the SMSU. Since she wants to teach, she visited campus “and as another future student, Luci Schiefelbein, said, ‘It is small enough to feel like home, but big enough to offer new experiences and opportunities.’ There is no better way to describe SMSU. Being from a small community, that is exactly what I need out of college.”
Added Blaskey: The full ride “will allow me to get the absolute most out of my college experience without having to worry too much about the financial aspect,” she said. “It also gives me some validation that all the hard work and time I put into school and being involved in the community has been worth it.”
Rojas is the son of Aaron and Karla Rojas from Rushmore. The Adrian High School senior wants to major in math education with a Spanish minor and is grateful to receive the scholarship.
“Throughout my entire senior year a major fear has been compiling student debt,” Rojas said. “The massive ball-and-chain that could hinder my movements well into adulthood. On the day I got the full-ride, I walked back to class; the hallway was quiet, a stark contrast to the (scholarship-awarding) celebration that I had just walked out of. It was then I felt the full weight of what just happened. It stopped me in my tracks. I felt the weight removed from my ankle. I took several deep breaths and walked like a free man the rest of the way to class, with a longer stride than usual.”