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Four Top Scholars Earn Full Tuition to Westmont College

The finalists for Monroe Scholars weekend at Westmont College.
The finalists for Monroe Scholars weekend at Westmont College. (Westmont College photo)

The Westmont College Office of Admission has offered four-year, full-tuition scholarships to four top high school seniors.

The new Monroe Scholars are Noel Hilst of Bainbridge Island, Wash., Bethany Le of Carlsbad, Léal Makaroff of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Olivia Stowell of Fort Collins, Colo. They earned a combined average honors GPA of 4.5 and an average SAT score of 1530 (out of 1600).

In the past 14 years, Westmont has awarded 47 Monroe Scholarships, the highest academic honor for incoming students. The Monroe recipients are selected for their outstanding academic abilities, strong values, character and desire to grow in their Christian faith. The four scholarship winners were chosen from 40 national and international candidates who attended a two-day competition at Westmont in February, writing a timed response to an essay question and interviewing with two faculty members or administrators.

Hilst, who captains the cross-country team at Bainbridge High, plans on majoring in psychology at Westmont. He leads younger men at Young Life and volunteers with a local ministry for Basque peoples. He has been impressed with the close relationship between Westmont faculty and students and the college’s commitment to the liberal arts in a Christian context.

“Westmont students and faculty have the freedom to struggle with, examine, and hash out questions of faith, truth and life,” Hilst says. “I loved my taste of Westmont and I can’t wait to experience more.”

Le, who will graduate from Carlsbad High School, plans on majoring in computer science at Westmont. She enjoys playing the piano and tutoring at her library, including leading summer reading workshops. She also mentors at a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) camp, and leads youth group at her church. Before attending the Monroe Scholarship competition, Le thought the liberal arts were a way of saying “too many GEs.”

“The liberal arts equip students with skills and abilities that are required to succeed in any and every field of study,” she says. “Westmont is even more special because it’s a Christian liberal arts college. I can openly discuss my faith in any classroom, as well as challenge that faith in order to reach deeper understanding, without judgment or fear. Additionally, a support system built from loving peers who also share the same faith is quite distinct from any other college.”

Makaroff, who enjoys playing the piano and running marathons, plans on majoring in engineering/physics. He has completed research at a center for molecular medicine and at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital. He says he has already fallen in love with Westmont’s campus, encircled by mountains and the glorious West Coast.

“Yet Westmont’s real treasure lies not in these qualities, but in the hearts and minds of the people there,” he says. “These individuals with a sincere love for Christ and for their brothers and sisters impacted my family even upon our first visit there. Despite the many other schools I visited that summer, I never could shake the sense of warmth and community that Westmont projected. There I was challenged to think in ways I never had before, encouraged by others’ zealous pursuit of God, and inspired by the many brilliantly humble, caring people I met, among both faculty and students.”

Stowell, who competes on the debate team and as goalie for the Fort Collins High School field hockey team, plans on majoring in English at Westmont. Last summer, she taught English to students in Hong Kong. She says the Monroe Scholars weekend was an amazing experience on all fronts.

“A big highlight was interacting with so many people who are intelligent, passionate and living a God-driven life,” she says. “Every person I met was motivated, but more than that, they were friendly, accepting, and kind. I was looking for the right balance of academics, active Christianity and fun. Westmont struck the balance better than any other school I visited. The campus is gorgeous, the classes are challenging and compelling, and there was a feeling of God’s presence.”

The scholarship is named after Kenneth Monroe, a former Westmont professor, and his wife, Peggy, whose estate gave the college more than $3 million.

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.

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