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Pinnacol Foundation awards scholarships to local students

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The Pinnacol Foundation has awarded nearly $390,000 in scholarships to 109 students across Colorado for the 2016-2017 school year.

Local recipients, and their colleges of choice, are: Bretta Maughan of Delta, Institute of Health Sciences; Dakota Proctor of Delta, Colorado State University - Pueblo; Holly Hernandez of Eckert, Colorado Mesa University; Heather Shapiro of Austin, MCPHS University; Andrea Kinterknecht of Olathe, Colorado Mesa University; Amanda Kinterknecht of Olathe, Colorado Mesa University.

The Pinnacol Foundation was created in 2000 by Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado's leading provider of workers' compensation insurance, to provide scholarships to the children of Colorado workers who were killed or seriously injured in work-related accidents whether or not Pinnacol was the insurance carrier. In those 16 years, the foundation has given scholarships totaling more than $4 million to over 450 students.

This year, 51 percent of the Pinnacol scholars are first generation college students; there are 14 groups of siblings and 77 scholars who have received the scholarship for multiple years. Scholars are studying everything from engineering to health care to welding at colleges, universities, community colleges and trade schools in 22 states. The average award is $3,500.

"After a serious workplace accident, families often struggle financially, physically and emotionally," said Edie Sonn, chair of the Pinnacol Foundation board of directors. "The children may need to take on more responsibility than their peers -- from working part-time jobs to taking care of a parent who is unable to work. We're proud to help these students pursue their educational dreams in the face of those challenges."

Receiving the scholarship is only the beginning. Twenty-four Pinnacol Foundation scholarship recipients graduated in 2016, including Brook Hernandez of Eckert. Brook's father sustained a serious injury to his back and leg when Brook was only four years old, and over 20 years later, Brook graduated with a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Colorado. She now works for Lockheed Martin and is looking to share what she's learned.

"We all have the opportunity to share our success with those who come after us," Brook said at a recent dinner honoring the scholarship recipients. "Only 14 percent of all engineers are women and I want to see that number increase. That's why I've worked with low-income girls to raise awareness about careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and I participate in my employer's monthly STEM educational program which focuses on local elementary school children."

To qualify for a Pinnacol Foundation scholarship, a student must be the natural child, adopted child or stepchild of a worker killed or seriously injured in a compensable work-related accident while employed by a Colorado-based business. For more information about the Pinnacol Foundation, visit pinnacol.

com/foundation or call 303-361-4775.

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