Four Alexandria students share what scholarships mean for them

Four seniors emphasize how respective honors will propel them into their plans after high school.

Connor Lay and Carrie Urness.jpg
Connor Lay gave a fist bump to Carrie Urness while receiving one of his three scholarships at Honors Night. Urness is a licensed school counselor at Alexandria Area High School for the Health Sciences and Human Services (HSHS) Academy. (Contributed photo)

Whether a scholarship or recognition, four Alexandria Area High School seniors reflect on what their respective awards mean to them on their journeys moving beyond high school.

Connor Lay received multiple scholarships, totaling around $9,000. He plans to attend North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton to study building construction technology.

He’s helped with various construction-related projects since he was in eighth grade, so Lay said seeing finished products come together is what drew him to this field.

Since he’s paying for college tuition himself, Lay said these scholarships have helped decrease what he will need to take out in loans.

“That’s the biggest part to me,” he said. “You work so hard in school and then to get recognized for that, it’s nice.”


Alexandria Area High School Honors Night was held at AAHS May 17. Invitation letters were sent out to 157 seniors, and $240,000 in scholarships were awarded. Of all the scholarships that were distributed, 118 were through the Dollars for Scholars program.

In addition to monetary awards, 43 other recognitions were distributed.

Austin Becker was one of seven seniors honored by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, as he will be entering a six-month training program with the National Guard after graduation.

Once he finishes the six-month commitment, Becker plans to return to the community to study law enforcement at Alexandria Technical and Community College.

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon awarded the students certificates and tassels. When Becker looked back out at the crowd, he said he was stunned to see a standing ovation.

“I don’t like to be recognized, but that was pretty special,” Becker said.

Anna Dokter was awarded a $6,500 scholarship, the top award through Dollars for Scholars.

Finding out that she won this scholarship was significant for Dokter, as she’s paying for college herself and comes from a low-income household.


“Being able to receive such a large amount is going to be very beneficial,” she said. “Then I’m able to not stress as much about trying to figure out how I’m going to pay for all my schooling and not be in debt forever.”

Following graduation, Dokter will be attending the University of Minnesota and studying biology on a pre-medicine track with future goals of going to medical school and becoming a doctor.

Caden Williams accepted a $10,000 scholarship from Ellingson Plumbing, Heating, A/C and Electrical.

“It made me feel like I accomplished something in high school,” he said.

He will be pursuing a two-year degree from the Minnesota State Community and Technical College Moorhead to become an electrician.

He’s taken internships in high school and committed to a five-year work program at Ellingson starting this summer. Eventually, Williams hopes all of this will prepare him to open his own business.

He’s witnessed behind-the-scenes looks of family friends’ businesses

“There’s a high need for something like that,” Williams said. “When there’s a need and there’s a way you can fill it, you always should do that.”


Jasmine Johnson joined the Echo Press staff in May 2020 as a general assignment reporter. She grew up in Becker, Minn., and later studied journalism and graphic design at Bethel University in Arden Hills, Minn.
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