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March 31, 2010 > Aaron Hsu wins Horatio Alger Scholarship

Aaron Hsu wins Horatio Alger Scholarship

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By courtesy of Aaron Hsu

Aaron Hsu, a sixteen year old recent high school graduate from Fremont, was one of only seven students from California who won a $20,000 college scholarship from the Horatio Alger Association, named for a 19th century writer whose "rags to riches" stories were popular in the day. The scholarship is awarded to students who have faced obstacles in their life and persevered through commitment and determination.

"I grew up in a single parent family as the oldest of four children. My family has always had a rather tight financial situation, and my brother was diagnosed with autism when he was one year old," explains Hsu. "All of this has had significant impact on my growth and development, teaching me to handle more responsibility than I otherwise normally would such as handling online banking and computer procedures for the family business to save money through various means, and to look beyond a mere medical diagnosis and love my brother all the same for who he is," says Hsu.

"Of course, such obstacles and adversities cannot really be described as enjoyable per se, but all the same, I remain thankful to God for measuring these circumstances to me, and for giving me the wisdom, strength, and grace to grow in such an environment," he adds.

Hsu has been homeschooled and attended COIL (Circle of Independent Learning), an independent study charter school in Fremont.

"I chose to attend COIL in particular, and to homeschool in general, primarily for the flexibility available as a homeschooled student," says Hsu. "Instead of having my time filled with extraneous projects and homework on that which I already knew, I could focus my time on other things that were more worthwhile to me, such as community involvement or more advanced study, that I would otherwise not have the time, energy, and other resources for."

While cross-checking various scholarship databases, Hsu found out about the Horatio Alger Scholarship. The application process involved the standard application questions, asking for GPA (grade point average), some documentation that had to be submitted by mail as well as three essays.

Hsu was thrilled to have won the $20,000 and attributes his good fortune to "a higher authority." "I am simply astounded by how God has provided for me," he says. "While the subject of paying for college, especially a public university, had been a cause of concern for my family and me, we gave it to the Lord in prayer, and evidently, 'He' seems to have taken pretty good care of the issue."

His mother was, of course, ecstatic at the news when Hsu told her he had won and couldn't resist telling their friends at church. Hsu's grandma initially thought it was too good to be true, and warned him of scholarship scams, until he explained that this was legitimate. After that, she promptly called everyone in their extended family to spread the good news. Hsu's brother was very happy for him, and his little sisters hopped up and down with excitement.

Although, Hsu has already been accepted by UC Irvine and UCLA, he is waiting to hear back from UC Davis and UC Berkeley, as well as some schools on the East Coast, before making his final determination on which college to attend. "I plan to major in something along the lines of political science, economics, and international relations for my undergraduate degree," says Hsu "and hope to eventually complete law school and become an attorney."

Helping him along the way to this point in his life, he mentions several people that he has greatly admired, including his guidance counselor at COIL, the college group fellowship leader, and his family's church small group leader, all of whom are, according to Hsu, "honorable men of integrity." Furthermore, he says, "It is my hope and desire to learn from their examples, develop their moral character and raise a successful family as they have."

Hsu adds, "In gratitude, my family and I remain immensely thankful for God's providential provision."

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