CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2020 Neil Armstrong Scholarship Recipient Named, Strokes of Genius Scholarship Selects 5 Graduates, and Chang Chavkin Empowers First Generation Students

  • Published
  • On June 23, 2020

TELLURIDE, Colo. – (June 23, 2020) – In the spring of 2020 as America went into Safer at Home and other versions of quarantine due to Covid-19, the graduating seniors rose to the top.  Literally in Telluride, where graduation was celebrated with kids accepting diplomas at the top of the Gondola; in Ridgway, graduates paraded in decorated cars through town, circling up for a presentation at the rodeo grounds; and in Norwood, students and families celebrated virtually via a video conference.

This year, the Telluride Foundation awarded a total of $419,000 in scholarships to 17 high-achieving students, from the six regional school districts. Scholarships this year included: six new Chang Chavkin Scholar awards, up to $60,000 per student; $14,000 in Chang Chavkin Scholar finalist awards; a $20,000 Neil Armstrong Scholarship; five Strokes of Genius Scholarships totaling $20,000; and five $1,000 Telluride Foundation Scholarships.

On KOTO Community Radio’s virtual Telluride High School Awards Night on May 26th, graduating senior Peter Spencer received the seventh annual $20,000 Neil Armstrong Scholarship. Spencer was selected from a very competitive pool of applicants from the Telluride, Norwood, Ouray, Ridgway, and West End school districts; the scholarship committee based their decision on his outstanding academics, strong interest in science, perseverance, and financial need.  Spencer will be attending Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Physics.

The friends and family of Neil Armstrong created the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Fund to honor the achievements and character of the late American hero and astronaut who died in 2012. The Neil Armstrong Scholarship is awarded each year to a regional high school student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).

Now in its 25th year, the Strokes of Genius Scholarship has become a proud Telluride tradition, and this year, five scholarships were awarded. It is the largest and longest running local scholarship available for Telluride’s graduating seniors, awarded to students who demonstrate financial need, academic excellence, exceptional character, community involvement, and leadership potential.

The Scholarship Committee was comprised of Lars Carlson and Kevin Holbrook from the Strokes of Genius Committee; Sara Kimble, Principal of Telluride High School; Alex Jones, a THS faculty member; April Montgomery and Katie Singer with the Telluride Foundation. The committee received 21 applications and selected scholarship recipients based on several criteria, including applications, essays, personal interviews, and financial need.

The Strokes of Genius Fund was established originally as the Benchmark Fund by the Benchmark Partners, a generous group of individuals that included Ron and Joyce Allred, Forrest & Maria Faulconer, Nancy and Tom McNamara, Ock and Joanie Peterson, and Jim and Sheila Wells, who identified the need for a college scholarship fund for Telluride High School students.

Since its inception, Strokes of Genius has distributed over $415,000 in college scholarships to 104 Telluride graduates. The 2020 recipients include: Carter Andrew ($5,000), attending Colorado School of Mines; Charlotte Botenhagen ($5,000), attending the University of San Francisco Honors College; Nichole Borland ($5,000), attending undecided; Grace Ringstad ($2,500) attending CU Boulder; Jonah Jodlowski ($2,500) attending Vanderbilt University.

The Telluride Foundation also provides $1,000 scholarships, recipients who are selected by the school administration, to each five regional school districts.  Seniors receiving the Telluride Foundation Scholarship include: Saria Taylor(Norwood), Jacquelyn Terrell (West End), Genevieve McArdle(Ouray), Andrew Winklemann (Ridgway), and Max Gorraiz (Telluride).

Every year the Chang Chavkin Scholars Program, an initiative of the Telluride Foundation, looks forward to selecting a new round of scholars. “The selection process is never easy,” says Valene Baskfield, Director of the Program. “The hard working and high achieving students in this region make our job of narrowing the application pool down extremely difficult.” In previous years, the Program has selected four scholars a year. This year, six new scholars were selected based on, “the real potential we see in each one of them,” says Baskfield.  This year’s application pool included 33 applicants from 6 regional school districts – Montrose, Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Norwood and Nucla/Naturita.

The Chang Chavkin Scholars Program provides college scholarships, college advising, and support to selected high achieving first-generation students. The scholarship alone is up to $60,000 over four years; however, the real aim of the Program is to work with students, once selected at the end of their junior year, to find the best match school that meets their potential. Supporting Chang Chavkin Scholars, according to Baskfield, “often starts with giving them permission to believe in themselves and what is possible. We have worked with students who have gone much, much farther than what they thought they were capable of.” Baskfield is quick to point out that the program doesn’t get students into college, “Our scholars get themselves into college. They do the real work.” Selected Scholars receive ongoing college advising and support to ensure they have accurate information and essential resources to attend their best fit school based on affordability and quality of education.



Riley Porter, Norwood High School

Riley lives on a family owned and operated ranch. Riley often works on the ranch before and after school as well as on the weekends. He participates in sports year around and is an active member of the 4H community. Riley is a leader who, a few years ago, attended a leadership conference in Washington DC and contributes to local fundraisers and community events. Riley was described as someone who shows up to volleyball and wrestling games to support his friends and cheer them on, setting an example for sportsmanship and school spirit. Riley impressed the selection committee with his track record of high academic achievement as well as his contribution to his community. One of Riley’s recommendations stated that Riley is “loved by all”. Riley is considering pursuing a degree in engineering.

Logan Weimer, Nucla High School

Logan has grown up on his family’s ranch and understands the value of hard work. He plays sports year around and is an active 4H member. Logan was described by one community members as “the most good-natured kid I’ve ever known. He is one of those rare kids that you love to have around”.  Logan cares deeply about being dedicated, helpful, and positive. Logan is interested in pursuing a degree in agriculture, with the hope that he will return to the ranch and “give back what it gave to me.”

Chloie Plumber, Telluride High School

Chloie lives in Norwood but grew up in Telluride and continues to commute to Telluride to attend high school. Chloie enjoys politics, theatre, and is passionate about the environment. She is an advocate for social justice and is an active leader in her community. There are no words to describe the admiration Chloie’s teachers and friends have for her ability to contribute “endless positivity” despite the challenges that come her way. “Chloie is one of the most passionate students I have met, and when she is motivated, she is unstoppable.” Chloie is interested in exploring the social sciences in college.

Jamling Sherpa, Ridgway Secondary School

Jamling moved to Ridgway from Vail four years ago. Jamling is a descendant from a long line of renowned Sherpas. Jamling takes advantage of every opportunity that comes his way. He has participated in several leadership and mentor opportunities and is a talented basketball player. According to Baskfied, “Jam is filled with drive and passion.” Prior to COVID, Jamling was looking forward to a summer internship at Denver Health in the Trauma Department through the Pinternship Program. Jamling loves a challenge and is looking forward to pursuing a college path that will allow him “to be the cause of positive change wherever I go”.

Keagan Goodwin, Montrose High School

Keagan is described as someone who consistently outworks everyone. He is busy most days training to be a strong team member on one of his sports teams, helping take care of his younger siblings after school, and working hard on his college level courses. Keagan is generous with his time and can be depended on by others. “Keagan is one of the very best kids that I’ve encountered,” said one teacher. He is seen as someone who leads by example and cares deeply about helping others. Keagan thinks that he might one day enjoy being a math teacher.

Carmen Puentes Flores, Montrose High School

Carmen moved to the U.S. in the 6th grade not speaking English. According to her teacher, “Her dedication and perseverance took her from not knowing one word to crushing her college level courses.” She continues to take a challenging course load while remaining at the top of her class. Carmen actively seeks opportunities to help others. She mentors and tutors younger students. She is also connected to the League of United Latin American Citizens, which allows her to support others immigrating from Mexico. Carmen was described by one peer as, “going above and beyond to help me adjust to my new way of life.” Carmen is interested in becoming a chemist and exploring the field of medical chemistry.

For more information on the Chang Chavkin Scholars Program: https://changchavkinscholars.org/.

The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride and regional community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. 2020 marks 20 years of making more possible through the Telluride Foundation’s commitment to enrich the quality of life of the residents, visitors, and workforce of the Telluride region. The Telluride Foundation is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that makes grants to nonprofits, owns and operates programs that meet emerging and unmet community needs, and makes investments. The Foundation approaches this work through the lens of its core values of inclusion, self-reliance, and innovation. Its work is funded through the generous support of individual donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. The Foundation hopes the community will join it in celebrating its 20th anniversary as it honors the nonprofits, donors, and community members who have all partnered together to achieve a significant positive impact on the region. For more information click on www.telluridefoundation.org.