Jade Gromer was at work as a manager at Dutch Bros Coffee when she got the news she had been waiting for.
Surrounded by customers and other workers, the Chaparral High School senior opened up the online portal and there it was: She had been selected as a Daniels Scholar.
“We were screaming and jumping up and down,” she said, adding the coffee customers joined in the excitement as well. “It was really, really cool.”
The scholarship — which provides up to $25,000 per year to those selected — not only means she was selected from 2,000 other students for the prestigious award, but it also means she could attend her dream college without taking out any loans.
“For me and my family, that seems unreal to have such a cool college experience and not have to worry about the financial piece of it,” Gromer said.
The Parker resident is still waiting to find out where she will enroll this fall but she hopes to be on the cheer squad for Grand Canyon University in Arizona. If not, she will attend Auburn University in Alabama.
Throughout her time at Chaparral High School, 18-year-old Gromer has filled her days with extracurriculars including cheerleading, serving as an executive of the National Honor Society and is a member of student government. Last year, she served as the junior class president. This year she is the president for the whole student body.
Since her freshman year, Gromer has participated in organizing Wish Week, which is in coordination with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Wish Week is about local students working to raise money to grant wishes made by children with critical illness.
This year, Gromer served on the 6-student team that organized all the events, rasing enough to grant 17 wishes.
“Those are the happiest weeks of my high school experience,” Gromer said. “It’s one week of the year where nobody is thinking about themselves, they’re just enjoying supporting someone who went through or is going through a really hard experience.”
Outside of school, Gromer has her job as a manager at Dutch Bros Coffee and her volunteer position at the neonatal intensive care unit at Sky Ridge Hospital. Romer has clocked in about 300 hours at the hospital, checking patients in and assisting families in the Ronald McDonald Family Room.
“What gets me out of bed in the morning is waking up and thinking that this day could be absolutely extraordinary,” she said. “I’m just wanting to grow and learn and continue to be a better person.”
Every year, Daniels Scholars are selected from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The program aims to seek out scholars who demonstrate strength of character, leadership potential, commitment to serving their communities, academic performance or promise, well-rounded personality and emotional maturity and stability.
Once chosen, scholars have several requirements including graduating in four years, maintaining a 2.0 GPA and remaining in communication with the Daniels Fund.
She will also have to declare a major by the end of freshman year, Gromer said. But after years of working with Make-A-Wish, Gromer is planning to major in public relations with a minor in nonprofit and philanthropy.
She is also working on plans to intern with Make-A-Wish in the summer of 2023.
Gromer learned about the scholarship, which is focused on middle and low-earning families, from her school counselor in September, submitting her application October. That included four essays, a survey and two teacher recommendations.
A few months later, she interviewed in front of a panel for about 15 minutes as the next phase in the selection process.
“It was definitely a little bit nerve wracking but I was overall just very excited to be there,” she said.
In March, she found out she had been chosen.
The experience caps off a high school experience that was anything but typical. Gromer was in the midst of her sophomore year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she and her classmates had to move to virtual school.
“I’m such a social person and just having that screentime alone was really really difficult for me,” she said. “There was a lot of connection missing between staff and students and students with students.”
However, Gromer ended up using the time to add new skills to her arsenal. She focused on learning about finances and began investing.
“I think in the end it really motivated me to come back stronger and to use that time to learn about new concepts and find new ways to grow,” she said.
This summer, Gromer will attend a conference with other Daniels Scholars at Denver University.
“I’m absolutely honored to be part of the 2022 program,” she said.
The three other Douglas County School District students who received the award include Hanna Becker from Highlands Ranch High School, Tabitha Reading from Mountain Vista High School and Samantha Wendell from Castle View High School.