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Editorial: 24 NM grads’ character gets them free college ride

The late Bill Daniels wanted to create a scholarship program that focused a bit less on academic achievement and a lot more on character. And the Hobbs native and New Mexico Military Institute alum didn’t want to endow a scholarship program for straight-A students who didn’t necessarily need the help. The scrappy kid who first made his name as a 1941 New Mexico Golden Gloves champion before becoming the godfather of the cable TV industry instead was looking for hard-working kids with strong values and leadership potential.

The 24 high school seniors from New Mexico (see their names here) who recently earned a place in the Daniels Scholarship Program should be proud of that accomplishment. A total of 212 high school seniors from New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming were chosen from a pool of more than 2,000 applicants based on their character, leadership, community commitment, academics, promise, well-roundedness and emotional maturity. They can attend any accredited nonprofit college or university in the country; the Daniels Scholarship covers any educational expenses that remain after other scholarships, financial aid and an expected family contribution are applied.

Daniels connected with those down on their luck and generously gave to homeless shelters, food pantries and organizations that served the disabled. The WWII and Korean War aviator had a soft spot for youth.

He said near the end of his life that God told him as a young man to share his good fortune with others. The scholarship program he left behind continues to do so, and the students chosen this year should not only be proud – they owe it to Daniels to live up to his high expectations.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.