In-state tuition awarded to 3 local students

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Niklaus Gier, left, and Niklaus Neumann, both of Libby High School, each were awarded a Montana University System Honor Scholarship to cover in-state tuition up to $18,000. Sarah Pierce of Troy High School also won the scholarship. All three plan to attend Montana State University in Bozeman. (Elka Wood/The Western News)

Two Libby students and one Troy student won three out of 249 full-tuition scholarships recently announced by the Montana University System Honor Scholarship program.

Based on academic merit, the scholarship takes into account a GPA ranking score combined with an ACT composite score and the application, said awardee Niklaus Neumann of Libby.

“It is a simple online application, which allows you to apply for a range of scholarships at once,” he said.

Fellow Libby High School awardee Niklaus Gier said “the scholarship provides all of your in-state tuition, so we are both planning on going to Montana State University in Bozeman.”

“We have actually signed up to be roommates,” Neumann said.

“We’re both studying engineering,” Gier added, “although I might do some pre-medicine as well.”

Troy High School awardee Sarah Pierce also plans to attend college in Bozeman, and will live off campus to keep costs down. She will study bio-energy resources, one of the courses offered by the Montana State University’s agriculture department.

“I’ll get to study algae at Yellowstone and have a lot of hands-on hours,” Pierce said. “I want to research the different uses for algae, which is rich in lipids and can potentially be used as a bio-diesel (fuel). A lot of people don’t know or think about the fact that coal is made up of fossilized plants, and we can harness energy from other plants as well.”

Pierce, happy to have won the scholarship, had as a plan B a generous benefactor — her 25-year-old brother, Kyle Pierce.

“He told me when I was applying for scholarships that I didn’t need to worry because he’d saved up $15,000 to cover some of my costs,” said Pierce in disbelief. “He saved the money when he worked as an accountant at a grain mill in Baker, Montana.”

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