When Southampton senior Jade Kalbacher traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month, she thought she was going for a scholarship presentation. But what she got was so much more.She found herself immersed in a weekend of conferences designed to help her not only as she moves on to college in the fall, but in life. Now, the 17-year-old Southampton Village native says she is invigorated to finish out her senior year.
Jade is one of 105 national recipients of the 2014 Horatio Alger National Scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a nonprofit educational organization named for the 19th century author of rags-to-riches stories of perseverance against the odds, which honors the achievements of outstanding individuals.
In order to qualify for the award, Jade had to explain to the committee how she has overcome adversity and hardship in her life and still placed education at the top of her priority list.
“At the end of the day, the scholarship was just the beginning,” Jade said this week. “I met with so many leaders to prepare for the future. Everyone there were influential leaders in the world and in America, and that is what they were preparing us for, our futures, to see what we can do and become.”
For her essay, Jade told the story of how she was a child of divorce and watched her mother, Beth, rebound from a serious drug addiction. The experience of watching her mother struggle and go through rehabilitation, Jade said, showed her how strong her mother is, and taught her that she, too, could be powerful.
This week, Jade’s mother, Beth Kalbacher, said she was incredibly proud of her daughter and her accomplishments to date. She also said she is proud that Jade knows what is important.
“The quality I am most proud of that Jade possesses is her spirituality,” Ms. Kalbacher said. “For someone who is 18 years old, she already gets that what is truly important is how you treat people—that is her best quality.”
Of the 40,000 applicants for the scholarship, Jade found out that she had been singled out for one of 105 of the coveted awards in January.
Not only was she awarded $21,000 by the scholarship committee, she was invited to the national conference in D.C. Since being formed in 1984, the Horatio Alger Association has awarded more than $100 million in undergraduate, graduate and specialized scholarships to students across the United States, according to a press release from the organization. This year, the group is awarding $9 million in scholarships.
To qualify, students must come from a household with an average income of no more than $15,000 per year and have a grade point average of 3.8 or higher, as well as a mean Scholastic Assessment Test score of 1,684.
“Horatio Alger scholars possess remarkable strength and resilience,” said David Sokol, chairman of the Horatio Alger Association, in a press release. “We are immensely proud to support these young people who have not let adversity or financial need hinder their pursuit of a good education. Horatio Alger Association is confident of their success and proud to assist as they seek to share in the American dream.”
In the fall, Jade plans to attend the University of Miami to study business. After college, she is not sure what she will do in the business world, but she hopes to be working on Wall Street. She also hopes to pursue an interest in biology while attending college.
Back in Southampton, Jade keeps busy—participating in varsity tennis for the past three years, taking ballet classes several days a week, as an active member of the math team and the Rotary Club and as a member of the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance. She is also the vice president of the local chapter of the National Honor Society.
“All of the members of the Horatio Alger Association come from such diverse backgrounds,” Jade said. “I am really excited to be a part of this.”