Armed with truckload of perseverance and determination, Alleman Catholic High School's Madilynn Klauer cannot be deterred.
Modest to a fault, Klauer, is a respected school leader at Rock Island's Alleman. She's a member of the National Honor Society and a determined basketball and track athlete. She also is one of the 106 high school seniors nationwide selected to receive the Horatio Alger National Scholarship.
Klauer will be awarded $25,000, paid in increments of $5,000 her first three years of college and $10,000 in her fourth.
Alger, arguably America's most prolific author of the 19th and early 20th centuries, penned 128 can-do-spirit-themed books. He modeled his books on the life he lived as a child growing up in 19th-century Massachusetts.
The Horatio Alger Association administers one of the nation’s largest privately funded, need-based college financial aid programs. It has awarded more than $180 million in scholarships to more than 27,000 students since 1984.
In addition to $25,000, Klauer has earned an expenses-paid trip April 1-5 to Washington, D.C, where she will be honored at a dinner with other Alger scholarship recipients.
"So deserving of anything great to come her way,'' Lynne VanDeHeede, who heads the counseling department at Alleman, said of Klauer. ""She used the tools available to her to be considered for the scholarship and then did an amazing job of proving herself worthy. We are all proud of Madilynn.''
To receive an Alger scholarship, students must have a grade-point average of 3.8 above and be heavily involved in community and school activities. The outgoing and personable Klauer is also an executive board member of Sigma Alpha at Alleman.
Scholarship hopefuls had to write a number essays, including one on overcoming adversity and one about mentors in their lives.
"Adversity hit home,'' Klauer said. "Dealing with divorce and my younger sister having a brain tumor at age 5 were a couple things I drew upon. And I suffer from Von Willebrand disease (a genetic bleeding disorder that prevents blood from clotting properly), which is a challenge, but something I have learned from. The essay process was lengthy and thorough, but worth every minute spent.''
Alger's work and can-do attitude is not lost on Klauer, who has her sights set on the University of Iowa and then a career as a actuary. There is something, Klauer says, about dealing with the financial consequences of risk — the duties of an actuary — that's inviting to her.
"There are going to be a lot of things thrown at you in life,'' Klauer said, smiling. "I had a math teacher in seventh grade tell me that would be a great path for me, and I've leaned that way since. I like the challenge of putting something in place and making it work.''
Klauer also credits her school for playing a role in her gaining a national honor.
"It has given me the tools and the knowledge to get to the next level,'' she said of her high school. "It's a big part why my parents sent me to Alleman and made sacrifices to do so. Because of it, I'm ready for a new beginning.''
A school-related mentor is the driving force for Klauer.
"Mrs. (Megan) Delp, my sophomore English teacher and my basketball coach, has been amazing to me,'' Klauer said. "She's been a mentor — which was another essay I had to write, and I chose her. She always talks about overcoming adversity and toughing it out and fighting through things, and when you do that, the end result will be in your favor. She is a great mentor.''
And Madilynn Klauer is deserving recipient of a big-time honor.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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