Local grad wins rare scholarship

A 2017 Fairmont High School graduate recently received a $1,000 scholarship from Scholarship America that is given to just 15 students nationally.

Lauren Carlson was approached by the Fairmont Dollars for Scholars chapter and told she was nominated for the award based on her volunteer work and involvement during her time at FHS. Carlson took the time to apply and found out just this summer that she was a recipient.

During her time at Fairmont High, Carlson played on the tennis team and was on the track team from seventh grade through senior year. She also played varsity hockey from eighth grade through 11th grade. Carlson joined the Fairmont dance team this last year, the first year FHS offered a dance team.

Carlson also was on the speech team, played trumpet in band and was in every fall musical during her time at at FHS.

While doing all of this, Carlson managed to retain above a 4.0 grade-point average.

“I studied a lot. It doesn’t come easily,” she said with a laugh.

Carlson also served on the Dollars for Scholars board for the past two years. What really made Carlson eligible for the scholarship, though, was the incredible number of volunteer hours she put in during her senior year. Carlson spent more than 200 hours volunteering to organize a few different events.

She helped put together the 2017 Kids Against Hunger concert held in January. She contacted donors and found performers. All of the money raised during the concert went to benefit Kids Against Hunger.

“I put in 100 hours organizing that alone,” Carlson said. “It was kind of tough because it was during speech season. It was definitely worth it, but it was a ton of work.”

She noted how fortunate she was to have the help of her mentors — Rex Hernes and Karen Sandhurst — to organize the concert.

Carlson also gained many volunteer hours through her involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Carlson has helped organize the summer FCA junior sports camp for young children for the past four years. Planning for the three-day camp took up quite a few hours.

Two years ago, Carlson helped start an elementary FCA for kids in third through eighth grade. They get together once a month on Sunday during the school year, usually meeting in a church. Carlson spent quite a lot of time planning out the Bible study and meetings for those gatherings.

In September, Carlson will begin her college career at St. Olaf College in Northfield. She plans to major in biology and Spanish, with a concentration in neuroscience.

“I’ve been really busy the past few years, but being involved is always worth it,” said Carlson, adding, “The hardest things in life are also the most rewarding.”