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Four Montezuma students are awarded esteemed Daniels scholarships

Three M-CHS seniors and one Mancos senior receive 'last dollar scholarship'

Four local high school seniors have received the Daniels Fund Scholarship to any two- or four-year accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States.

Josie Sitton, Ben Chupp, Maddi Phelps and Jake McKie received the scholarship for students who “demonstrate exceptional character, leadership and a commitment to serving their communities.”

The scholarship is a four-year annually renewable college scholarship for students in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

According to the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program’s website, the “last dollar scholarship” pays costs that the students’ other financial aid and scholarships don’t cover.

According to Bruce Wilmsen, vice president of Media and Community Relations, 238 scholarships were awarded from the fund this year, 146 in Colorado, 30 in New Mexico, 26 in Utah and 36 in Wyoming.

“We had about 2,250 students who submitted a complete application this year, and 421 finalists were invited for a personal interview,” Wilmsen said.

Josie Sitton, Montezuma-Cortez

Josie Sitton plans to attend Colorado Mesa University to study biomedical science and then pursue dentistry school.

Sitton has played soccer for four years at Montezuma-Cortez High School as a striker or midfielder. She also is a member of the school’s chamber choir and the 4-H Club of Montezuma County. She has done volunteer work in the community through the 4-H Club and has coached a youth girls soccer team.

Sitton, the daughter of Marla and Bobby Sitton, will graduate from M-CHS with an honors diploma and academic achievement for maintaining a GPA higher than 3.4.

She also hopes to travel under the scholarship program, which provides support, mentoring and the opportunity to study abroad. “I want to see how the dental world works in other countries,” she said.

Sitton plans to return to the Four Corners area after her education.

Ben Chupp, Montezuma-Cortez

Ben Chupp, a native of Cortez, plans to attend the University of Florida, an out-of-state opportunity that the Daniels Fund Scholarship opened up for him.

Chupp and his girlfriend, Kayla Hageman, welcomed their 7-month-old daughter, Brecklynn Chupp, at the beginning of Chupp’s senior year. The three will move to Florida, where Hagerman will continue her education at a nearby college. Chupp has relatives who live near the university.

Chupp said he wrote about his daughter in his essays for the scholarship. He said he had to grow up a lot faster than other students, but that Brecklynn was the best thing that ever happened to him.

The University of Florida was Chupp’s first pick because of its rating as a Top 10 public university, but also for its day-care program on campus.

Chupp, the student government president at M-CHS, has a 4.05 cumulative GPA and received an academic all-state award. He played basketball for M-CHS the first three years of high school but decided to focus on his family and education for his senior year. In addition, Chupp tutors freshman and sophomore students through the Avid program at the high school.

Chupp, the son of Herman and Hannah Chupp, plans to study finance at The University of Florida.

“I am planning on doing financial planning and advising how to invest their money in 401K. I like having that personal relationship with clients,” he said.

Maddi Phelps, Montezuma-Cortez

Maddi Phelps, the daughter of Luci and Allen Phelps, plans to attend Fort Lewis College to study English education.

“In this area, teachers do not get paid a lot of money, so the scholarship allows me to come back and work without being in debt,” she said.

Phelps, a middle hitter on the M-CHS volleyball team all four years of her high school career, will graduate with an honors diploma after being on the honor roll for four years.

Phelps mother, Luci, found out about the scholarship and thought it sounded like a perfect fit for her daughter, who, according to her, has always been focused on giving back to the community.

“I do a lot of work for my church, Evangel Assembly of God,” Phelps said. “I lead music, help with the kids and the food pantry.”

Phelps plans to return to the Four Corners area to teach at a high school.

Jake McKie, Mancos

Jake McKie, the son of Heather and Ryan McKie, plans to attend the Colorado School of Mines.

He has competed in cross-country, basketball and track all four years at Mancos High School and is the secretary of the student council and president of the National Honor Society.

“I am hoping to get a degree in electrical engineering, and I want to join a program called NRECA International, and they go to developing countries and help them get electricity,” he said.

McKie has volunteered a lot in the past couple of years with his youth group and in Mancos Middle School. In addition, the group does service projects in the community and beyond.

“We went to Navajo Reservation and did service projects there,” he said. “We helped build a ramp for an elderly woman so she could get in and out of her house easier.”

McKie said the Daniels Scholarship provides him with a lot of resources and opportunities he would not have had otherwise.

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