Three soon-to-be Iowa high school graduates were awarded full-ride academic scholarships today to attend one of the state’s Regents institutions.
The inaugural awards, presented at a luncheon in Des Moines, are funded by the Dale and Lois Bright Foundation, a non-profit that 101-year-old Lois Bright and her husband, who died in 1996, established back in 1957.
Lois Bright was on hand to present the scholarships to Dalton Kortsch of Northwood, Garret Miller of Waverly and Tess Lough of Letts.
All three teens are planning to become the first members of their families to graduate from college. Kortsch said he was “blown away” when he learned he’d landed the scholarship that will pay for his tuition, books and room and board at Iowa State University for the next four years.
“It made me realize all of the hard work I had done actually paid off,” Kortsch said. “The generosity of others around me is just phenomenal. If you want to go to college and you’re a hard worker, there’s a lot of people out there willing to support you.” Kortsch plans to study math and science at I.S.U.
The Bright Scholarships are based on “need.” Garret Miller said he would have a difficult time paying for college without the scholarship. Garret’s mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before he was born and she became bound to a wheelchair.
“She ended up going into a nursing home about six years ago, so my dad is the sole monetary provider,” Miller said. “So, it has just been rough for him raising two kids. There’s some financial need, but this is way over the top. I didn’t expect any of this at all.” Miller, who has a younger brother, plans to study accounting and business at the University of Northern Iowa.
The third Bright Scholar, Tess Lough, will attend the University of Iowa next fall with the goal of becoming a lawyer. “I was just planning on getting loans and loans on top of loans,” Lough said. “So, this has made it really incredible and a huge financial burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m very happy for this.” Tess’ mother, Susan Lough, is equally excited about the scholarship.
“It’s a big wow,” Lough said. “We’re talking law, so we’re talking about eight years (of school). So, to have four (years) taken care of…it’s just phenomenal. It’s just been a big relief.” The four-year scholarships will allow Kortsch, Miller and Lough to graduate debt free at a time when the average Iowa college graduate has student loan debts of nearly $30,000.