BY JOE SCOTCHIE
As the subject of a popular Off-Broadway musical, Alexander Hamilton, New York’s most prominent figure from the founding era, has enjoyed a revival in his reputation.
Since 2004, there has been a scholarship program in his name, one designed to help low-income students. Students from the Roslyn area regularly win scholarships and the most recent recipient is rising Roslyn High School senior Andrew Ock, who has received the national Alexander Hamilton Scholar Award for community service and academic achievement. Out of nearly 600 applications, only 40 students nationwide are selected for the award, which is based out of Seattle, WA.
The scholarship committee noted that Ock has several achievements which helped him stand out among the many applicants. In his sophomore year, he entered two international business competitions, the World Series of Innovation and Moody’s Information to Innovation, in which he came in third and first respectively. Aside from business, Ock is also on the Roslyn High School speech team. When he was a sophomore, Ock won the New York State Forensics League Championship and became the state champion for Declamation.
At Roslyn High, Ock is involved in other extracurricular activities. In his senior year, Ock will be the president of Freshman Orientation, vice president of the Global Awareness Club, vice president of Art Club, a columnist for his school newspaper, and president of Speech and Debate. He is also a member in his school’s student government and National Honor Society. Ock is a member of the chamber orchestra, where he plays the classical violin.
According to the scholarship committee, Ock’s desire for community service heightened when his father abandoned his family in 2007. “Growing up, his father’s abandonment left him with no father figure to look up to, but his father’s absence only encouraged him to work harder,” the committee added.
“I think that in order to grow, you need to use your circumstances to your advantage and learn from those experiences,” Ock said. “You should never let your background limit your potential because in the end, you will be the deciding factor to your success.”
In the future, Ock hopes to provide other disadvantaged students with opportunities and resources that were available for him.
Hamilton Scholars provide support to low-income students by helping them earn a college degree and build purpose-driven lives. Each year, the Hamilton Scholars committee selects 35 to 40 high school juniors nationally to join the program based on financial need, demonstrated academic excellence, commitment to service and leadership potential. Through the Hamilton Leaders Academy, scholars complete a five-year program designed to provide them with practical tools for success in college and the post-college world.
In 2004, George Cox recognized the economic and opportunity gap between high-achieving, low-income students and their higher income peers. He believed that the debt burden of graduating college, coupled with a mismatch between student aspirations and appropriate postsecondary courses of study, created significant barriers for low-income students. Cox also believed that, given the right tools and guidance, these high-achieving, low-income students could begin breaking the cycle of poverty for their generation and take their places as future leaders of the nation.
For inspiration, Cox looked to Alexander Hamilton, a founding father born into poverty. As a result of mentorship, guidance, and a scholarship to attend college, Hamilton was able to leave a lasting legacy that helped the United States to grow into a financial power. Cox hoped to provide low-income students with the same opportunities Hamilton received. With his West Point classmate, Bill Thomas,Cox created Alexander Hamilton Scholars, a program going strong more than a decade after it was founded.
“This year was very competitive,” Cox said. “We received almost 600 applications from incredible young people across the nation. Our goal is to identify young people who have set high standards for citizenship and success in their lives. We are very excited about Andrew’s potential for future greatness. The Roslyn community is lucky to have Andrew as a resident.”