Dream bigger: Scholarships transform future for Class of 2023

Telluride High School (THS) Senior Owen Doyle (center) heard on Thursday that he was selected to receive a scholarship for college. Doyle is pictured with his mom, THS AP U.S. History teacher Jessica Heady and THS college counselor Rex Lybrand. Lybrand, who administers the Telluride Local Schools Scholarship Program, said community members are welcome to email him to learn more about how to help transform the future of the Class of 2023. (Photo courtesy of Rex Lybrand)

College and career opportunities for the Class of 2023 are growing, thanks to Telluride community members supporting students and a local scholarship program.

At Telluride High School on Thursday, college and career counselor Rex Lybrand said students and parents were celebrating and hugging.

“We just had a student get a scholarship earlier today that transforms his financial outlook,” Lybrand said.

Lybrand, in his second year as the college counselor at Telluride High School (THS), said scholarships being awarded to the Class of 2023 include both the Telluride Local Schools Scholarship Program and outside scholarships awarded nationally by universities, donors and organizations.

THS Senior Owen Doyle had gone through a rigorous interview process and learned Thursday he was selected to receive a college scholarship for $15,000 a year.

“This opportunity allows him to expand his ability to go to a lot more schools and not just base his decision on the college that he can afford,” Lybrand said.

Doyle’s mom, Jessica Heady, is a teacher at THS and said their family is grateful to all the donors who make local and national scholarships possible. Heady teaches AP U.S. History.

“Thanks to our champion of support, encouragement and patience, THS counselor Rex Lybrand, both my daughter Lily (THS ’22) and son Owen (THS ’23) have applied for local and national scholarships,” Heady said.

Lily was awarded $46,750 in scholarships to attend Westminster College in Utah with support from Al and Joyce Johnston, Elaine Fischer Memorial, Palm Arts, Telluride AIDS Benefit , Telluride Publishing, Telluride Magazine, Telluride Rotary, and Women and Business/Sally Puff Courtney Scholarship.

“Lily was awarded a mountain of money last year and it looks like Owen is on his way to the same level of recognition for his hard work and dedication to academic achievement, service to the community and athletics,” Heady said.

New this year, Lybrand said more people are asking about how to support students through the Telluride Local Schools Scholarship Program.

Several new anonymous donations have been made by THS alums.

“Alums who benefitted from the Telluride Schools Local Scholarship Program in the past have come to me to pay it forward,” Lybrand said. “As they explained, this program’s impact had a pivotal influence on their trajectory, allowing the dream of obtaining a college degree to become a reality.”

Alums are telling Lybrand they would like to continue to find ways to help future seniors experience similar success.

Lybrand said he is trying his best to help “put those kinds of experiences together for students. A lot of times it’s the local community that knows students best and can help.”

Also new for the Telluride Schools Local Scholarship Program, Lybrand said last year a parent of one of the graduating seniors “in an act of considerable generosity … became a silent partner and sponsored a classmate with a full ride.”

Lybrand said the student had not been considering college immediately due to the financial cost, but is now at a university “with the freedom to devote their energy to study instead of navigating the balancing act of working to save for tuition or attending part-time.”

Lybrand acknowledged all the “great acts of kindness from individuals, small businesses and larger scholarship funding sources in our community” that are continuing to inspire students to pursue higher education. He also commended the work that students are doing to learn and grow through their education by completing internships, study abroad programs and local mentorships.

“The key takeaway is that Telluride students arrive at the doors of competitive schools not only mastering rigorous classes taught by dedicated teachers, but also with a desire to push the envelope of exploration into fields of their interest,” Lybrand said.

With all the talented students at THS, many colleges are offering school-based financial aid packages, Lybrand said.

For example, Lybrand highlighted the work and dedication of THS student Ava Osborn, who followed her interest in astronomy and completed a summer internship with astronauts and cosmonauts in Luxembourg for World Asteroid Day. Lybrand said the experience was timely: a few weeks later, NASA successfully knocked asteroid Dimorphos off its course.

“Having an enriched portfolio, Ava gained acceptance and was awarded the Colorado School of Mines President's Scholarship, lending to game-changing 100 percent tuition support from the university,” Lybrand said.

Seniors now are in the process of making their decisions about their college destinations. Lybrand said some recent college destination picks by students include Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, University of Southern California, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado College and Yale.

On May 23, a celebration will be held live on at KOTO radio and all scholarship awards will be announced to the community.

Lybrand said community members are welcome to email him at RLybrand@telluride.k12.co.us to learn more about the Telluride Schools Local Scholarship Program or to make a donation.