Joined them all: MCHS graduate uses club experiences to become Daniels Scholar |

Joined them all: MCHS graduate uses club experiences to become Daniels Scholar

David Pressgrove / Craig Press
Moffat County High School Class of 2020 valedictorian Joshua Gumber earned the prestigious Daniels Fund Scholarship.
David Pressgrove / Craig Press

Joshua Gumber remembers the moment that he found direction and a mission for high school.

“I was in my freshman advisory and the teacher, Ms. (Amy) Hansen, told us that we should all join at least one club,” the soon-to-be-graduate of Moffat County High School said. “So I took her advice and joined all of them that I could.”

Gumber credited his decision to follow Hansen’s advice as a significant reason he was able to grow and develop into an accomplished, award-winning student.

Hansen agreed: “I think it’s nice that he gives me that credit, and I’m sure I did encourage them to join something, but the thing about Josh is that he didn’t just join clubs.  He stayed in them, and he took on leadership roles…but the thing is that Josh didn’t stay in those clubs because he knew it would help him…He’s in them because he is passionate about what they do.”

In March, Gumber was notified how that decision had paid off. He was named a Daniels Fund Scholarship recipient, which is one of the most competitive and prestigious scholarships offered to Colorado high school students. As news of that award settled in, Gumber reflected during his final week as a high school student about the honor.

“I looked at high school as a tool to set up where I could go,” he said. “It could either limit or open up opportunities.”

The opportunities Gumber jumped into in high school were Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), National Honor Society (NHS), Key Club, Travel Club, Youth United Way and in his “spare time” he was employed in the Tech Booth for all of the productions happening in the school auditorium.

Experience from those clubs and his job developed a student resume that competed against some of the top student athletes in a four-state region. More than 4,000 students from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah apply. This year, 214 students received the award. The newly minted Daniels Scholars will receive a “last dollar” scholarship for four years of college, which means that after other scholarships and aid are considered, the fund will cover the rest of the recipient’s costs.

Gumber had never heard of the scholarship until reading a poster at the school last fall. He said he was looking at the poster and said out loud, “maybe I should apply to that?” and as he said it MCHS principal Sarah Hepworth was walking by him.

“She told me that I should definitely apply because I would have a chance and that Daniels’ Scholars resumes go to the top of a pile,” he said.

His principal piqued his interest, and so he started the process. As he read through the requirements Gumber realized it would not be easy.

“The process was more challenging than applying to a college,” he said. “I had to write three essays, answer a lot of questions in the application and then in the second round I had to go to an interview with a three-person panel.”

An interview with a panel of three adults could make any high schooler sweat, but Gumber said that his experience in FBLA and DECA prepared him.

“Those clubs helped me learn how to do well in public speaking situations,” he said. “I’m going into engineering, which doesn’t always translate into a need for public speaking, but I’ve learned how to formulate my thoughts by leading in those clubs and apparently (the panel) liked what I had to say.”

The Daniels Fund Website describes scholarship recipients as: “honest, respectful, self-reliant, and compassionate. They are proud Americans who value our free enterprise system and are prepared to give the world their very best shot.”

Dixie Hatfield, head custodian at MCHS and Josh’s boss for the tech booth, agreed that he possesses such qualities.

“Josh is a take-charge young man,” she said. “He is Knowledgeable, hard working, dependable, has excellent communication skills, is personable and an excellent leader.”

Gumber will be taking his talents to Golden, Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines in the fall. His work as a Daniels Scholar will continue during his pursuit of an engineering degree. There are several requirements for the recipients to remain in the program. He is required to work 5-10 hours a week as well as take several online courses from the Daniels Scholarship Enrichment Program, which are described as, “a series of online workshops led by topical experts on subjects such as ethics, character, patriotism, civics, free enterprise, entrepreneurship, leadership, critical thinking, etiquette, and financial literacy.”

Hepworth had the feeling that Gumber, this year’s valedictorian, would be able to thrive as a Daniels Scholar.
“I do not know Josh as well as other teachers might, but what I have discovered in that short time, is that Josh is a remarkable, memorable and extraordinary person,” she said. “He is confident, but not in a way that is off putting…I believe that he will be extremely successful in any endeavor he undertakes.”

Gumber is glad he took his advisor’s suggestion and ran with it.
“I’m extremely grateful to be able to go through college with the opportunity to finish debt free,” he said. “It can be crippling to graduate with a bunch of debt. I will be able to enter into what’s next without that problem.”

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