The Boettcher Scholarship is arguably the best scholarship available to Colorado students who want to attend college in state. It is a four-year, full-ride scholarship that also provides opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills and jumpstart successful careers. The Boettcher Scholarship Program was established by the Boettcher Foundation more than 60 years ago, to encourage Colorado’s best young minds to remain in state and use their immense talents to improve Colorado communities.
It’s no surprise that the Boettcher Scholarship Program is extremely competitive. Each year, more than 1,500 exceptional high school seniors apply for the 42 available Boettcher Scholarships.
Mark Paricio, a science teacher at Smoky Hill High School, won a Boettcher Scholarship in 1980, while attending Golden High School. He said it had a tremendous impact on him and his entire extended family.
“At that time my father was supporting our family, my grandparents and my mom’s sister’s family. He pulled me aside when I was a sophomore and said ‘If you want to go to college, you have to find a way to pay for it,’” Paricio recalls. “(The Boettcher Scholarship) made all the difference in the world and helped him get my sisters and cousins through college.”
Paricio earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Colorado State University, followed by a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Colorado School of Mines. He worked on the Rocky Flats nuclear clean-up project for several years, before beginning a career as an outstanding high school science teacher. In 2015, Paricio received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Two years earlier he received the Amgen Award for Science Teaching Excellence and was among a small group of teachers and students to be selected to travel to a remote research station in Cherskiy, Russia to study Siberian artic systems.
Along the way, Paricio married Cheryl Paricio, who is a chemistry teacher and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP) coordinator at Smoky Hill. They have two children, Lindsey, a 2014 Smoky Hill graduate, and Eric, a member of the SHHS Class of 2016. Incredibly, both of them followed in their father’s footsteps as Boettcher Scholars.
“It is rare to have this many members from one family all receive a Boettcher Scholarship,” said Tiffany Anderson, Boettcher Scholarship Director. “The Paricios are a family of hard workers and leaders, and Eric, Lindsey and Mark were each very deserving of the scholarship. We are proud to have them in our Boettcher community.”
Both Lindsey and Eric set their sights on a Boettcher Scholarship early on.
“It’s definitely been a goal for me my entire life, just hearing about it from my dad every single step of the way,” said Eric, who will attend CSU and pursue a double major in engineering science and music education with a double minor in math and leadership.
Lindsey is now a sophomore at CSU and is studying in New Zealand this semester. (She joined her family by SKYPE for this interview.) She is proud to be the second of her family’s three Boettcher Scholars.
“It meant a lot to be able to continue that tradition. Hearing my dad talk about it, and talk about winning it, it had kind of been a lifelong goal, a dream, and definitely something that pushed me to keep working harder,” said Lindsey, who is majoring in chemistry and double minoring in math and leadership.
The siblings, who both want to be high school teachers, say it takes more than outstanding scholarship, leadership and service to become a Boettcher Scholar. Both believe that their passion set them apart from other applicants.
“It’s passion for people and passion in the sense of having to work and letting your passion drive you and fuel hard work and dedication,” Lindsey said. “Finding what you’re passionate about and pursuing it and being dedicated to it.”
“I think another quality that every Boettcher needs to have is courage,” Eric said. “Everyone has these little ideas of something that would be great, something that needs to be changed in their school or their community. But if you don’t take action on that idea, there’s no point. Having that courage to step out and take that risk, that’s something that Boettcher definitely looks for and it’s helped me to become a more positive source of change in my community.”
“I think that’s what Boettcher is looking for in their leaders for Colorado,” Mark Paricio said.
When asked what contributed to the family’s Boettcher success, the Paricios credit the family time they enjoyed, especially the summers when they traveled through Colorado and took on challenges like climbing 14ers, which taught the kids both perseverance and dealing with things that are out of their control. They also say growing up in Cherry Creek Schools, attending Trails West Elementary, Laredo Middle School and Smoky Hill High School, afforded their children a wealth of opportunities and the best education possible.
“Spectacular teachers every step of the way,” Mark Paricio said.
The Paricio parents are understandably proud of their children.
“I can’t imagine being more full of pride. I am humbled by everything they can do,” Cheryl Paricio said.
And as they watch their children continue to learn and grow, they will continue to help others do the same, as educators, and as the parents of two Boettcher Scholars.
“With our kids having college paid for, what we can do is share with our family and help put our nieces and nephews through college and fulfill their educational dreams too,” Mark Paricio said.
For more information about the Boettcher Scholarship Program, visit http://boettcherfoundation.org/colorado-scholarships/.