Million dollar scholar

May 29, 2015
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Hart graduate Nickolas Ponce with his little sister, Olivia, following the HHS commencement ceremony display the check for the $1 million scholarship he has been awarded.

By Allison Scarbrough. OCP Editor.

HART — Recent Hart graduate Nickolas Ponce has helped others less fortunate throughout his high school career, and now someone has returned the favor by awarding him a $1 million college scholarship.

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Nickolas Ponce with his parents Esmeralda and Cruz Ponce.

Yes, you read that correctly — one million dollars! Nick found out last week that he was awarded a personal “Vision” scholarship from Jimmy Marshall. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me if the check is real, and yes, it’s real,” he said.

Nick was extremely surprised when he found out the great news, because he didn’t apply for the scholarship — he was nominated.

The 18-year-old has been donating thousands of dollars to starving children in Africa since the beginning of his freshman year through “I came across an ad for it at the dentist’s office when I was reading ‘National Geographic,’” he said. Ironically, his career goal is to become an orthodontist, and the $1 million scholarship will go toward 12 years of education in the orthodontic field.

“People are so concerned with ideologies and politics when there are starving kids,” Nick said. “Giving is one of the most fulfilling things to do, and it’s something I will continue to do for the rest of my life.”

Nick will be recognized, June 10, on the Michigan House of Representatives floor in Lansing by the Hispanic Caucus, said Sonya Hernandez, a Ferris State University adjunct professor.

Nick, who was honored as an HHS migrant graduate, has been involved in the Promesa

Nickolas Ponce with his sister Olivia, mother Esmeralda, cousin Elaine Barrera of Florida (second from right) and his father, Cruz.

Nickolas Ponce with his sister Olivia, mother Esmeralda, cousin Elaine Barrera of Florida (second from right) and his father, Cruz.

program which enabled him to acquire nine college credits from Ferris State University. He plans to attend FSU this fall, where he will study for four years as an undergraduate; followed by four years of dental school; and finally two to four years in a residency program. The scholarship funds will go directly to the college, he said.

The son of Esmeralda and Cruz Ponce, he graduated with a 3.5 grade point average, earning the honor of cum laude graduate. He also received Diman-Wolf, the Community Foundation of Oceana County and Eastern Michigan University scholarships. He is the first kid in the family to go to a four-year college and the second one to graduate from high school, he said. Nick is setting a great example for his younger sisters, Amanda, 17; Olivia, 5; and Emma, 2.

The scholar became interested in orthodontics after having braces, he said. Now his straightened smile is beaming, because his future is so bright. “It all seems like a crazy success story,” he said.



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