Spend a minute talking to Hannah West, and it’s understandable why the Windsor High School senior is a finalist for the prestigious Boettcher Scholarship.
West, 17, the daughter of Ann and Randy West of Windsor, recently learned that she is one of 72 finalists who will interview for 30 minutes in front of a panel of 12 to 15 people representing the Boettcher Foundation in downtown Denver on March 5 or 6.
“I am super excited,” West said. “It puts everything into perspective and makes everything else I’ve done worth it because now everything’s starting to pay off. It’s a lot of stress knowing that all of it’s going to depend on that one interview, but at the same time it’s also exhilarating because I know myself better than anyone else does. Whether I get it or not, I think it’s just a really good opportunity to be put into that situation and to learn how to deal with that sort of stress and to learn how to present myself.”
The Boettcher Scholarship provides a full ride to any four-year college in Colorado. According to the Boettcher Foundation website, prospective scholars go through a rigorous application and interview process. More than 1,300 students apply for the 40 available scholarships each year.
West said she found out in December that she made it to the semifinal round with 200 other students, and is now down to the final 72. West said she’ll find out sometime in March if she’s one of the 40 students selected.
West, who is ranked at the top of her class and is the co-president of the student council, said if awarded the Boettcher, she’ll likely attend the University of Denver to study microbiology or chemical biomedical engineering.
“It’s getting me excited about going to college, and it makes me realize that I have a lot to look forward to and that I can really make a lot of contributions to society in science,” West said.
Windsor High School principal Michelle Scallon said West is a perfect candidate to receive a Boettcher.
“She is a wonderful young lady, and she is talented and smart and beautiful,” Scallon said. “She’s the real deal. She’s got it all. I am so excited for her to start the interview process because when she goes in that room, her smile lights up the room. When she goes in that room, she’ll knock them out because she is awesome.”
Scallon said West, who is on the tennis and cross country teams and is a tutor and mentor throughout the school district, is the perfect representative of what Windsor High School stands for.
“She is kind to every student she meets. I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face,” Scallon said. “Academically, she’s at the top of her class. Socially, she’s got a lot of class. She’s good to all kinds of kids. She’s a great, great young person. We’re so excited to have a Boettcher finalist.”
West’s mother, Ann, said she’s very excited for her daughter.
“We’re just very proud of her because she’s just always given 110 percent, and she’s always worked very hard,” Ann West said. “It’s very special. She’s very diversified. She’s a pretty well-rounded student and well-rounded girl. She’s always been very interested in many, many different things. She’s not too afraid to kind of strike out and do something.”
A straight-A student from the time she started earning letter grades, West said the opportunity to be a Boettcher finalist is priceless.
“A lot of people have asked me what has made me get involved in all these activities and what’s driven me, and my honest answer is, ‘I don’t even know,’ ” West said. “I think a lot of it is kind of natural. In elementary school, my parents pushed me to be involved in a lot of things, and that just carried through middle school and Windsor High School. Everything I’m involved in I’m super passionate about.”
It hasn’t been a walk in the park for West, though.
“It’s definitely been super stressful at times,” West said. “It’s really hard to juggle having a part-time job, being involved in clubs, taking AP and college credit classes, doing sports and having a social life. It’s a lot to juggle, but it really pays off in the end, and I wouldn’t change anything, even the things I regret. I feel like everything’s brought me to this point here, and I think no matter what happens in the future I think I’m in a really good place, and I’m really happy with where I’m at. It’s always going to be worth it in the end if it’s something you care about.”