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Hayley Ellis and Faith Kozisek

College of St. Mary Admissions Counselor Hayley Ellis, left, hands Aquinas High School Student Faith Kozisek an $80,000 check on March 18. She is one of five recipients this year of the Marie Curie Scholarship.

Faith Kozisek of David City suspected something was afoot when her mother suggested she wear her nice pants to school on March 18.

The Aquinas High School senior also wore her College of Saint Mary shirt in hopes that all of her hard work was finally paying off.

“I kind of knew something was up,” Kozisek said. “I put two and two together."

It was that day Kozisek was presented with an $80,000 check through the college's Marie Curie Scholars Program. The scholarship is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and provides financial support and resources to students pursuing majors in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields like biology, chemistry or math at the college level.

Kozisek is one of five recipients of the scholarship this year and will receive up to $20,000 annually for four years in gift aid. She’ll also receive free tutoring along with opportunities for undergraduate research and participation in other programs like with the National Institute of Health and NASA research fellowships.

She’ll also present at and attend various national conferences. April Sypal, a math teacher at Aquinas, said Kozisek is deserving of the scholarship and will do well at Saint Mary.

“Faith has demonstrated a strong aptitude for the content that I have taught (in my math) classes,” Sypal said. “She is constantly working hard and is eager to help fellow classmates. Faith has all the required attributes of someone entering into the medical profession. She is intelligent and hardworking and has a strong desire to help others.”

Kozisek is involved in numerous activities at Aquinas, including: cross country, basketball, track, FAA, National Honor Society and Soul Club. John Svec has coached her in cross country and is also the high school's guidance counselor. He said he hopes that Kozisek’s success at College of Saint Mary will encourage other students to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m very proud,” Svec said. “I know of her career plans and think it will be a good fit for her. Obviously, the College of Saint Mary saw her merits and thought it was a deserving award for her.”

The College of Saint Mary is a Catholic women's university in Omaha. It first opened its doors in 1923 and currently enrolls about 1,000 students. Kozisek said she will start her first term at the school this fall and wants to study human biology. One day, she’d like to work as either an occupational therapist or a brain surgeon in a pediatric hospital.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” Kozisek said about the scholarship. “And I’m excited for the undergraduate research opportunities. It’s just like all my prayers have been answered.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Recently him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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