Twelve years of hard work paid off for Hamilton High School senior Logan VanDenburg as he was chosen one of only two graduates in Montana to receive a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship that will pay full tuition for four years of college.
The scholarship is for $230,000-plus that VanDenburg can use at any college that has an ROTC program.
“I’m excited and it is a big relief,” VanDenburg said. “It’s a really cool opportunity and helpful on the budget. My dad got a full academic scholarship to the University of Montana when he graduated high school so I always felt I had to get up there with him.”
On the list of places he’d like to study, VanDenburg listed northern cold-climate programs.
“I’m 95% sure I’m going to University of Wisconsin, Maddison,” he said. “I applied to Cornell but wasn’t accepted. I’m wait-listed at Harvard so that is also a possibility. I also applied to Utah, but that is a little too far south for me. I like the cold.
“The University of Wisconsin is a large school and a change from Hamilton. It will be a big shock but I’m looking forward to cool, new opportunities,” VanDenburg said.
For his college degree, he plans to study microbiology or general biology in the field of life sciences. Then he hopes to continue in the Navy going to flight school and becoming a pilot.
Currently, he is not a pilot.
“They actually say they like the fresh guys with no bad habits,” VanDenburg said. “I think it would be cool. It is super-hands-on, quick decision-making and just a cool career.”
He said Hamilton High School has prepared him for college and life and teachers have impacted his career decisions. Retired Biology Educator Tom Schmidt taught VanDenburg during his freshman and sophomore year.
“He was a huge influence on me and I really loved his classes,” VanDenburg said. “I did Science Olympiad his last year before he retired. Then Mr. [Dietrich] Perchy, my assistant cross country coach, was my biology teacher and I took his physical science class my freshman year.”
VanDenburg said biology appeals to his sense of order.
“It is super-fascinating with the whole principle that every structure has a function,” he said. “Everything is practical. Over the thousands of years that things have been able to develop everything has a job and a place to do it. Everything is built to serve a purpose. I like that and it was super-intuitive for me.”
He said HHS’s advanced placement classes and advanced science courses have helped him. He is a 4.0 student in the running for valedictorian and has worked hard for 12 years.
“I always do my best and excel,” he said. “I knew it would pay off. I didn’t know what or how but I knew the harder I worked the more opportunities I would have.”
He praised the teaching staff at Hamilton High School.
“Every student is accountable for getting good grades and doing well but I wouldn’t be in love with biology and wouldn’t have continued in cross country if it wasn’t for my teachers,” he said. “They are a huge part.”
VanDenburg has prepared for the physical requirements of ROTC by competing in track, tennis and cross country at HHS. He has competed for years on the Bitterroot Swim Team and said he is ready to be pushed.
“When I think about being in a career and every day getting to wake up to doing something new and a bit different,” VanDenburg said. “With flying, you never know what that will look like. I want adventure, but stable adventure. The military offers stability. There are orders and a plan with the opportunity to do really cool things.”
On April 7, VanDenburg received a large check at Montana’s Capitol building in Helena. Representative House District 86 Dave Bedey (R) and Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen were at the presentation.