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Central High School graduating senior Maria Martell has been selected as this year’s recipient of the school’s Hansen Scholarship. The scholarship was established jointly by Central High School and the Central High School Alumni Association thanks to a donation from the Mark and Anne Hansen Foundation.

The foundation annually awards up to $25,000 to a Central High School graduating senior of great promise and achievement who cannot otherwise afford to attend college. The funds will cover the cost of college tuition, room, board, books, fees, and other expenses for one academic year. With continued college success, the selected student’s scholarship may be renewed for up to three additional years.

“I’m the first person in my immediate family to attend a university, so that means a lot,” said Maria. “My mom has always been that driving force behind me telling me about the importance of continuing my education. We’ve always had modest living circumstances and we’ve known affording college would be very difficult, and I felt I was prepared for that. I’d applied to colleges, gotten in, I was super excited and then the financial aid packages started coming in. That part was pretty devastating. Knowing that I had worked so hard for such a long time and the only thing standing in my way was my financial situation.”

Applicants are selected on the basis of both academic potential and financial need. The Hansen scholars will be students who have demonstrated a desire and ability to overcome barriers to success, who will greatly benefit from a university education, but lack the resources to pursue it. The goal is to make a transformative difference in the life of a promising student. Student scholarship applications will be evaluated on scholastic ability, extraordinary commitment to self-improvement, potential for leadership, service to the community and to Central High School, and financial need.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Maria.”This scholarship has made my mom’s dream for me come true and I’m so happy that I’ve made her proud.”

“Maria stands out because of her character,” said school counselor Hannah Bertram. “She has overcome personal struggles while still being heavily involved in school, maintaining high grades, and being a positive influence to others. Central pride is definitely school-wide and we care about all students here, and I think Maria lives and displays that in everything she does. She’s a wonderful girl. I’m so glad and so honored to have had the opportunity to get to know her and I look forward to watching her in her future endeavors.”

Maria, joined by her family, will be joined by Mark and Anne Hansen from the Mark and Anne Hansen Foundation tomorrow, May 24, at the annual Central High School Hall of Excellence reception. The reception starts at 5:30 p.m. in second floor auditorium lobby at Central High School in La Crosse.

“I just want to give the Hansens a big hug and tell them that this is so life changing,” said Maria. “They are making a really big positive impact on my life but also this school, allowing kids to follow their dreams. I will never forget Central and my experiences here. The Hansens’ generosity has inspired me and I hope I’ll be able to give back to this school at some point because they’ve given so much to me. I will always look back at this time as one of the best parts of my life.”

This fall, Maria will attend the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with an intended major in Biology.