Aspen High School senior makes scholarship history

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

Juggling a full academic workload, athletic teams, clubs and other extracurricular activities along with college essays, applications and campus visits leaves little room on the plates of most high school seniors.

When many busy seniors have put in a day’s work, more work is usually the last thought on their minds.

But most high school students aren’t like Aspen High School senior Harriet Pryor, who was awarded both the Boettcher Scholarship and the Coca-Cola Foundation Scholarship this month.

Aspen High School college counselor Kathy Klug said it is a huge deal for a student to receive either scholarship, let alone both.

The last time an Aspen High School student received the Boettcher Scholarship — a merit-based scholarship for high school seniors in Colorado — was 14 years ago, Klug said. Coincidentally, Aspen’s 2002 Boettcher scholar, Elizabeth Stewart-Severy, is currently an English teacher at the high school.

In Klug’s 23 years with the school district, the college counselor said Pryor is the only Aspen High School student ever to receive a scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation Scholarship is a national achievement-based scholarship that recognizes students’ ability to lead and serve.

But Klug isn’t surprised Pryor is the student to set such high standards for Aspen High School.

“Harriet is one of those people that says, ‘Yes I can help, how do you need me to help?,’” Klug said. “She’s a very intentional student who lives her life not for herself but for other people.”

Pryor’s resume not only boasts her extensive 100 plus community service hours but also highlights her exceptional academic performance, which includes placement on both the high school’s honor roll as well as the National Honor Society.

Her search for college scholarships started in September 2015, when the high school senior decided she wanted to help her parents pay for her college education and also help her future be free of college debt.

From October 2015 through the end of February, the high school senior woke up at 8 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays to work on scholarship applications until the mid-afternoon.

“I think the scholarship application requires even more work than college applications,” Pryor said. “They really want to make sure their money is going to the right place, and rightfully so.”

Out of nearly 90,000 applications to this year’s Coca-Cola scholarship, Pryor was one of 150 students to receive the award.

“It means so much to the school and gives me hope as an educator that goodness and character rise to the top and that people see it without bragging, which she doesn’t do,” Klug said, adding that Pryor is incredibly modest.

Pryor’s father, Aspen Police Department’s Richard Pryor, was quick to acknowledge his daughter’s teachers for contributing to her growth and who she is as a person.

“We deeply appreciate everything that they have done,” Richard said. “Harriet is one of the amazing kids in our community, and she’s done a ton of hard work in applying for many scholarships. We’re very grateful she’s being recognized in this way.”