Two Bitterroot Valley students are semi-finalists in the 2021 Coca-Cola Scholar program that could result in a $20,000 scholarship each.
Hamilton High School Senior Bella Sidoruk and Corvallis High School Senior Nyssa Schairer have been selected, along with eight other Montana students and 1,607 students out of 99,403 applicants from across the nation who applied in October.
Schairer and Sidoruk are in the top 1.6% of all applications.
Sidoruk said being selected was a surprise.
“I never thought it would be something I could achieve because nearly 100,000 people applied,” Sidoruk said. “When I got the email I was shocked and so excited.”
Sidoruk is focused on community service.
“Both my aunts have multiple sclerosis so I have been a big part of fundraising for the MS society, including caroling and I started my own non-profit bracelet-making business with all profits going to the cause,” Sidoruk said. “I’m also involved in the BEAR peer mentor program because I’m really interested in psychology and do that to be involved with kids.”
She has helped with Hamilton Schools Christmas programs with Washington school, accompanying singers on piano and helping with the students.
She is a competitive pianist and usually travels to Spokane for competition.
Sidoruk has a 4.0-grade point average, is ranked number one in her class and is applying to 20 colleges.
“I’m applying to some Ivy Leagues and higher-level schools, even schools on the East coast and those tuitions are crazy so I need all the scholarship funding I can get,” Sidoruk said.
She plans to double major in psychology, cognitive science, or neuroscience and minor in music and creative writing.
During seventh grade, her family took a year-long trip across the United States, liked Montana best, and moved here from Long Island, New York.
She is on the soccer team, enjoys skiing and is a ski instructor at Lost Trail, is a member of Key Club (Kiwanis youth service organization) and is president of the National Honor Society. She continues to play piano.
HHS Principal Ryan Wells said Sidoruk is a great student with a phenomenal work ethic.
“Bella sets goals for herself and works incredibly hard to achieve them,” Wells said. “This level of intrinsic motivation is rare for a high school student, but Bella is the exception and consistently strives to make decisions that will enhance her future opportunities. She is a great student and is truly deserving of this honor."
Corvallis’s Schairer said being selected as a Coca-Cola Scholarship semifinalist is exciting.
She also has a focus on community service.
Her involvement in 4-H has leadership and community service built into it over the past 10 years. Initially, she participated in 10-15 projects each year but has cut it down to four or five projects because of sports and club opportunities. This year her projects include market beef, veterinary science and archery. She has served as a 4-H club officer; president, social media chair, correspondent and treasurer. For the past two years, she has been a 4-H counselor, planning 4-H camp for all county members to attend, contributing over 158 hours. She has served on Teen Council organizing the 4-H sections at the Ravalli County Fair.
Schairer said she has a “full plate” with other activities.
In addition to 4-H, she is busy with high school opportunities. She participates in cross country, basketball and track and field; she is in FFA and attended their leadership and community service conferences, Interact, National Honor Society. She is taking two advanced placement classes and dual enrollment classes earning college credits. She ranks 16th in her class of 132 with a grade point average of 3.96.
“I’m going to go into veterinary science,” Schairer said. “I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since fifth grade.”
She plans to attend Montana State University’s animal science program then will apply to Washington State University for her veterinarian degree.
“The Coca-Cola scholarship would be so helpful, especially with eight years of college,” Schairer said.
Corvallis High School Principal Cammie Knapp said she is honored to recognize a CHS students as a finalist for a prestigious scholarship such as the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
“Nyssa deserves this recognition as she is one of our student leaders who willingly steps into a leadership role and serves alongside her peers,” Knapp said. “She has committed to making a significant impact in her school and local community as she participates in National Honor Society, Interact, and our FFA program.”
In addition to Schairer and Sidoruk, semifinalists in Montana are Haley Harding of Miles City; Khasidy Hodge of Missoula; Jenna Paul of Ismay; Ryan Senitte of Billings; Rebecca Stroh of Harlem; Chaire Vlases of Bozeman; and Joshua Brown and Tiara Whitmus of Wolfpoint.
This week semi-finalists are submitting applications with additional information to be reviewed by the Coca-Cola Program Reading Committee. After this review, 250 seniors will advance as regional finalists then face virtual interviews. Finally, in early March, 150 seniors are selected as Coca-Cola scholars and given a $20,000 college scholarship.