Summit High senior Justin Jacobi awarded Colorado Grand Scholarship |

Summit High senior Justin Jacobi awarded Colorado Grand Scholarship

From left, Joshua Blanchard, Lake Dillon Theatre Company; Kathy Swanson, Lake Dillon Theatre Company; Heather O’Brien, The Colorado Grand; scholarship recipient Justin Jacobi; Eddie O’Brien, The Colorado Grand; and Elisabeth Lawrence, The Summit Foundation. (Selection committee members not pictured: Thomas Davidson, Mark Heminghaus, Kevin Burns.
Courtesy of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company |

The arts can be a great pathway to connect to another human being and form a bond that travels through time and space. It’s this emotional tie, one person to another, that Summit High senior Justin Jacobi embraced in an essay he composed titled “A Mile Walked,” which recently won him an $8,000 Colorado Grand Scholarship.

“I mainly kind of drew my inspiration for the essay based off my experiences in all of my art classes, as well as my jazz-band class,” the scholarship winner said. “In my jazz-band class, empathy was especially important to me.”

Jacobi was also inspired by a recent Summit High Instrumental Music trip to Spain and France, where students performed in cathedrals, learned about the countries’ cultures and interacted with other students. Using music as a common language allowed Jacobi to empathize with the international students, he said.

“By having that opportunity through the arts, I was able to achieve and learn so much,” he said.

About the scholarship

Jacobi’s scholarship is one of four awarded each year by The Colorado Grand, an annual charity tour for 1960 and earlier sports and race cars of distinction that travels across the Western Slope of Colorado. The drivers make four lunch stops along the tour, and the organization has chosen to reward the hospitality of its lunch hosts by providing a scholarship to one high school graduate in each of those communities.

“The vast majority of our scholarship money goes to small towns, and small-town communities in Colorado especially are really attuned to getting their kids into college,” said Eddie O’Brien, community liaison for The Colorado Grand. “We found, for us, it was a very effective way of giving to the communities that have us for lunch.”

The Colorado Grand, a nonprofit, raises money for the scholarships and other charitable contributions in three ways, the first being the entry fee from drivers who participate in the tour, followed by various sponsorships. Finally, O’Brien said, participants love the idea of the scholarships and will often make their own donations toward the fund.

This year, the car tour will make stops in Walden, Meeker, Salida and Dillon, where The Colorado Grand has traditionally lunched at Dillon Amphitheater. O’Brien said it was therefore a natural fit to enlist the help of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company in creating specific scholarship criteria.

“The Colorado Grand wants the community to make the criteria for choice up to the community,” he said. “We are really not involved in the choice of the students. The people who are involved in choosing the students, we ask each community to have a member of either the town council or county commissioners, a member of the charity, the 501(c)3 that’s working with us, and that’s the kind of board that we want to have for them.”

Choosing a recipient

O’Brien said LDTC went above and beyond when organizing the scholarship selection committee for Dillon, which included Kathy Swanson, of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company Board of Directors; Elisabeth Lawrence, events and marketing coordinator for The Summit Foundation; Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, Dillon Police Chief Mark Heminghaus and Dillon Mayor Kevin Burns.

The Colorado Grand dictates that students must be Summit County residents currently enrolled in public, private or home school and attending a Colorado college or university as a freshman in the fall. Scholarships are awarded without consideration of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or gender.

LDTC executive director Joshua Blanchard chose additional criteria, including short-answer questions, a resume detailing relevant activities, two letters of recommendation and, of course, the essay, which asked the student to discuss the role the arts play in community and how they can effect change and bring people together.

“There were 10 students who applied, and it was quite a challenge to select only one recipient because there were many talented applicants,” Swanson said, adding that short answer and essays didn’t have names attached to them, so the selection committee could be really objective in their evaluations.

“We were particularly impressed with the winner, Justin’s essay. He addressed the topic well, it was really well-written and that was probably the deciding factor.”

There was a wide range of submissions, Heminghous said, and it was interesting to see how each member of the committee was very close in his or her individual, preliminary review and scoring when compared with the rest of the group.

“It was interesting to read the papers and get a feel for where a lot of our high school seniors are coming from,” Heminghous said. “For the most part, they were well written, clearly thought out. The interesting thing about Justin’s was that it was an original thought, rather than just a retelling of the story of his life.”

“We wanted someone who was pretty well-rounded, seemed to be highly motivated and was a hard-working individual, and Justin met all of those criteria,” Swanson said.

Choosing a path

Jacobi said he was looking for a scholarship application that would allow him to compete against some of his more accomplished classmates and leverage some of his accomplishments into funding for continued education.

“I wanted to find something competitive, and I figured this would be one of the more competitive scholarships that I could apply for,” he said, adding that The Colorado Grand Scholarship wasn’t widely-publicized amongst Summit High seniors. “If I applied for it, it would be difficult to get, and the fact that I got it was really outstanding.

“What the 8,000 represented was that you had to bring something more. That’s something I was looking for, to see if I could make that kind of application, and I surprised myself, yes, I was able to.”

Jacobi will be heading to Colorado State University in Fort Collins in the fall to study zoology. He said winning the scholarship was a prized moment of success, proving that if you work hard, it can have direct results.

“If you’re willing to look beyond the horizons and try to do everything within your power, you can make a difference in your education and your future,” he said. “It was really symbolic of hope.”

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