The educational plans of Fort Peck native Natasha Chamberlain just got a big boost.
The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans announced last week that Chamberlain, who will be a sophomore at Carroll College in Helena this fall, was one of 10 students nationwide who will receive a $10,000 Horatio Alger Honeywell Scholarship.
A press release from the association said the annual scholarship recognizes students “who, in the face of great adversity, have exhibited an admirable commitment to pursuing their college degree in science, technology, engineering or math.”
The 10 recipients of the 2017 Honeywell Scholarship have maintained an average GPA of 3.53 and come from households with an average annual income of $13,593.
Chamberlain, who lives in Fort Peck and graduated in 2016 from Nashua High School, said winning the scholarship was “pretty awesome.”
She said she has been living with her grandparents, Jerry and Melody Chamberlain, since she was 5 years old, and she is entirely responsible for funding her college studies, including taking on student debt.
She did some work-study last year, she said, but mostly she tries to avoid working during the school year so she can concentrate on her education. During the summer in Fort Peck, she has been working as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home and also as a waitress.
The Horatio Alger Association has awarded more than $125 million in college scholarships since 1984, but the Honeywell Scholarship was established only in 2014, by Dave Cote, executive chairman of Honeywell. That same year, he was inducted into the association as a lifetime member.
Chamberlain said she was always interested in math and science, but it was one teacher in particular who inspired her—Marc Kolker, who was her science teacher in seventh and eighth grades. After that, she said, she took every science class offered in high school.
At Carroll College she is studying Health Sciences with an eye toward pre-nursing, “but I’m kind of keeping my options open.” Chamberlain said most of her high school classmates went to Montana State University Bozeman or Billings, but “I kind of wanted to get away from the group and do my own thing.”
Also, she said, “I toured Carroll in my senior year and I fell in love with the campus.”
She credits her grandparents for much of her success.
“They have supported me through absolutely everything,” she said. “They kind of built that core foundation for me to pursue that degree. … I just remember from a very young age them telling me that the only way you’re going to make a better life for yourself is by getting an education.”
They also supported her by attending talent shows she was in and all her sporting events. Chamberlain played basketball and volleyball all through her high school career and she also ran track one year and played softball in her senior year.