Entering his senior year at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Preston Hardy is never quite sure how all the bills will get paid. That’s why he was so pleased to be the second recipient of the Bayfield Education Foundation’s Finish Line Scholarship–the funds went “straight to tuition” at the small, private college. With some clever money management and one more year of hard work, the aspiring dentist is “in a position to get it done.”
Preston graduated from Bayfield High in 2015. He loved growing up and attending school in a small town. “People actually care and want you to succeed,” he says. To replicate that sense of community in a metropolitan setting, he chose to attend the 1200-student CCU on the outskirts of Denver. It helped that CCU has a strong basketball program and offered Preston a modest scholarship to come play at the Division-II college in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Thus continued Preston’s patchwork strategy of funding his education, which began as he saved money throughout high school. He receives some additional assistance from CCU, and his parents help out too. But the BHS grad notes that learning money management is part of the journey. “At the end of the day, it’s on me,” he affirms.
Working very hard during summers is key to the BHS grad’s plan. He recently held a near full-time job at a local retail store. He also helps out during weekend hours at basketball camps and clinics put on by the local arm of the Gold Crown Foundation, an organization founded by a former Denver Nugget for the purpose of “Educating Youth and Community Through Sports and Enrichment Programs.”
When fall nears, Preston focuses on basketball even though it means there’s not much time available for outside jobs. The senior believes it’s important to play well and help his school. The scholarship money from CCU “is an incentive to work hard,” he says. As he looks ahead toward the rest of the academic year, Preston plans how to stretch his savings and make it through. A couple of small loans have become part of the patchwork approach.
After his freshman year, Preston decided to aim for dental school. He switched majors to Health Science and will graduate from CCU this coming May. Next summer, he will take post-graduate exams and apply to CU in Denver, the University of Nebraska and other nearby universities with outstanding dental programs.
Reflecting on the Finish Line Scholarship, Preston views it as something a little different than the other components of his multi faceted college funding strategy. Senior year can be quite stressful for students trying to earn the all-important college degree, and it’s a time when students’ needs can be overlooked, he feels. Knowing that funds from the Bayfield Education Foundation arrived at CCU to help offset fall tuition made his life a little easier and offered an extra “incentive to finish school strong.”