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"I want to win this for Pueblo:" South High School senior, creator of "Protect Pueblo" named Boettcher scholarship finalist

Posted at 6:16 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 20:17:00-05

PUEBLO — A Pueblo School District 60 student is a finalist for one of Colorado's most coveted and competitive scholarships.

William Highfill, South High School senior and creator of Protect Pueblo, is among 100 high-achieving and community-minded scholars competing for a full-ride to any college in the state.

"The Boettcher is the most prestigious scholarship in all of Colorado so applying to the foundation itself is about finding a second family who recognizes volunteerism, activism, and community work. Also, supports a culture of making your entire state better," said Highfill.

While it's humbling to be a Boettcher finalist, Highfill says it's about more than just the award.

"I want to win this for Pueblo because this community has done so much for me. It's been incredibly supportive, I've never had an issue with anything here. Everyone has always bent over backward to make sure I can do what I need to do, and I want to show them their investment was worth it," said Highfill.

His extensive involvement in the community and school district has helped him stand out among other finalists.

"To get to this point of the elimination process, you kinda have to be intelligent and compassionate, but they've been looking at what you've been doing within your community because the Boettcher Foundation wants to educate the next series of leaders in Colorado. They want to see the impacts you've made, however big or small within your community," said Highfill.

During his four years at South High School, he's been involved in the city-wide food drive, student council, national honor society, budget committee, and much more. Most importantly, he's created Protect Pueblo, a student-led social media campaign designed to increase awareness of the pandemic and highlight the ways people can protect themselves during it.

"We had trouble as a country, not much as a community, with accepting masks wearing and everything that we had to do to lessen the effects of the virus. Seeing the adults fumble the ball a little bit, I thought maybe as students there's something we can do as children to help our parents lead by example," said Highfill.

While he's graduating and heading off to the University of Denver next fall, he wants to ensure the initiative continues long after he's gone.

"I've been working with the other leaders and we're getting ready to start nominating leaders for the next round which will be five more leaders. One for the entire thing, and then one from each high school so it stays in District 60. It probably won't stay in South High School, I kinda want the head leader to be from a different high school so we get different views and perspectives," said Highfill.

At the University of Denver, Highfill plans to pursue an International Studies degree with a concentration in social justice and sustainability. Even though he'll be leaving Pueblo, his community will still be one of his main focuses.

"I want to return to Pueblo after college and continue working to make this town better because there is so much potential in the Steel City," said Highfill.

He has one more interview before a winner is chosen for the scholarship. He says getting it would be another tool to help those who've helped him.