When it comes to classic literature, the wisdom found within its pages is as applicable today as it was when it was first written, said Doug Kiesewetter.
Kiesewetter, Libraries of Montrose County Foundation board chairman, said part of his group’s new scholarship’s goal is to provide an avenue to not only help students afford college, but kickstart an interest in the classics.
“We think literature enhances your life and opens up worlds to you that don’t get opened up other ways,” said Kiesewetter.
The scholarship is $5,000 per year for up to four years. Awardees must be Montrose County residents but they can be high schoolers, homeschoolers, current college students or locals wanting to return to college while also in the workforce.
As part of the application, the scholarship requires reading three classics from an approved list of 40 novels or nonfiction works.
The endowment hopefuls then must write three essays.
Two of the three essays will be “thought questions” concerning the books the applicants read, Kiesewetter said. The remaining one is more autobiographical and must explain why the scholarship will help the applicant in college.
Awards will be made based on excellence reading and the essays, as well as based on need, Kiesewetter said. Additionally, the recipient must take at least one literature course per year wherever he or she is enrolled.
A committee of retired English teachers will conduct the first review of essays and recommend nominees to the Libraries of Montrose County Foundation board.
From there, the board will decide who should win the scholarship, Kiesewetter said.
The applications are due Feb. 29. The winner will be announced sometime in March or April.
The fiction list includes “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen; “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck.
The nonfiction list consists of “The Republic” by Plato; “On the Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin and “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe.
“We’re hopeful this will stir up some interest in reading classic literature,” Kiesewetter said.
To know more about the scholarship, visit montrosecf.org/apply-for-a-scholarship/.
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter@andrew_kpress.