Nora Tayefeh, a former Longmont student, had come a long way from her high school days when the epidemic struck in March 2020. Shev is now thriving as a freshman at Colorado State University, owing to the highly sought-after Boettcher Foundation scholarship, which she encourages other kids to apply for.
Tayefeh’s perspective has shifted dramatically since receiving the scholarship. She initially saw the scholarship as a daunting, nearly unattainable opportunity that covered full tuition and looked almost too wonderful to be true.
“I had heard about the scholarship, and I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m going to be able to apply for that or be competitive for that,’” Tayefeh said.
Tayefeh’s application experience, on the other hand, changed her perspective. She discovered that the Boettcher Scholar group is diverse, with members coming from all over the state, including big hubs like Denver and Boulder, as well as small, isolated villages on Colorado’s Eastern Plains and Western Slope.
Tayefeh feels that this diversity dispels any misconceptions about what it takes to be a Boettcher Scholar. She advises potential applicants not to compare themselves to others, but rather to focus on their individual stories and contributions. The scholarship selection process is about recognizing individuals who can make a difference in their communities rather than a single determining criterion.
Tayefeh’s transition to college life has been a combination of enthusiasm and adjustment as she studies biochemistry and entomology at CSU. The first semester, she said, was a transition phase with larger courses and a stronger sense of freedom. She acknowledged the difficulties of large lecture classes, when you might sometimes feel like a number. Nonetheless, she is already developing connections and enhancing her college experience.
Tayefeh went from Silver Creek High School to CSU owing to a Boettcher Foundation scholarship, but her journey was anything from ordinary. She, like many other students during the epidemic, found herself navigating the unfamiliar waters of online learning and faced these problems full on.
Tayefeh chose an alternative path, enrolling in an early college program through Colorado Early Colleges with Front Range Community College. She had not considered pursuing college classes as a freshman in high school. However, the epidemic altered the game, and she had to adapt.
“I decided that if we’re going to be taking online classes anyway, I might as well be taking online college classes and get some college credit out of the way,” Tayefeh said. “You get college credits for free. Basically, you get those prerequisites out of the way, right off the bat. It really helps you out once you hit college and looks great on applications for any scholarship.”
Tayefeh says her commitment to extracurricular activities was one of the important factors in her selection for the Boettcher award. She pleaded with colleges and scholarship committees to be interested in what kids do outside of class.
“Just get out there and do something,” Tayefeh advised. “Like anything, it does not matter. It really doesn’t, just be involved in more than just school, just homework.”
Tayefeh spent hundreds of hours in 4-H, a youth development program that extends much beyond the usual image of animal display and husbandry. Her 4-H experiences enabled her to train individuals in a variety of disciplines, ranging from dog training to archery coaching. While these abilities may appear unconnected, they demonstrated a key component of her character – her willingness to assist others in improving their abilities.
Tayefeh had the opportunity to combine her love of the outdoors and animal husbandry with her leadership and public speaking skills through 4-H. She encourages Longmont pupils to participate in extracurricular activities despite their geography. She’s seen people from all throughout Colorado participate in 4-H events and activities, demonstrating their dedication to their community.
She has chosen to extend her academic experience despite the fact that she could complete her studies in a matter of years due to her earlier successes and present scholarship. Her justification for making this decision is not only logical, but also demonstrates her commitment to furthering her education.
Tayefeh recommends “All of the Wisdom and None of the Junk” by Katie Kramer, CEO of the Boettcher Foundation, as an important resource for scholarship seekers. The book gave her great tips on how to apply for scholarships and write captivating essays, allowing applicants to highlight their accomplishments elegantly without sounding pompous.