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ALYSE CULLEN, MHS 1999
Colorado College 2003
Were you financially prepared for college?
I knew college was going to be expensive but never really grasped the reality of it until after I graduated in 2003.
When you applied to MSF, did you already know what college you were planning to attend? What was the name of the school?
When I applied to MSF I knew I would be attending Colorado College, a small liberal arts school in Colorado Springs. I knew I would play lacrosse there.
How did the MSF scholarship help you prepare for college?
The MSF Scholarship helped me in a few ways: 1) I was able to pay for all of my books for the first semester (a cost that I didn’t realize existed separately from tuition.) 2) My award gave me added confidence as a departing senior. I didn’t realize that I had made a mark on the school that was worthy of the Principal’s Award. It was a surprise to receive it and made me feel valued as a member of MHS. The fact that they recognized me as an individual who made a difference in a large school was a very special feeling.
Why did you want a MSF scholarship?
I applied to MSF not expecting to win anything. I just “threw my name in the hat” thinking I wanted to be a part of it, but didn’t think I was good enough in any specific category. Although I took mostly AP classes, I knew the competition was high with so many talented students in my graduating class!
Did you know anything about MSF before you applied for a scholarship?
I hadn’t been to an MSF award ceremony before and didn’t know much about it.
If you could not have afforded college, what other options did you have?
I took out a few loans and am still paying for my undergraduate years at a very low interest rate. There was no other option for me besides college. No matter the cost, I was headed to school!
Did finances affect your choice of school or major?
Finances did not affect my choice of school. In hindsight, I should have been more aware of cost, but I appreciate how my parents protected me from tuition concerns. What a gift!
In addition to the MSF scholarship, what other types of financial aid or support did you use?
I had a FAFSA loan and a private loan that was forgiven when my father died in 2002. My parents paid for my spending money and covered other expenses. I was fortunate to be able to focus on academics and athletics without the burden of tuition.
What was your major?
I majored in Studio Art with an emphasis in Printmaking. I also was a 2-yr lacrosse captain on my DIII team.
Once you completed your studies, what was your plan for the future?
After college I worked in Montclair at The Outdoor Store and was an apprentice for Montclair artist Tom Nussbaum. Following those jobs I moved around the world with my husband for his professional hockey career. We lived in 9 cities around the world and had our first child while living in Italy. Currently we are settled in Minnesota with our 2 kids. I own my own business called Teags & Ry. It is a fitting combination of my love of sports and design.
What would you say to current MHS seniors who seek financial aid?
To seniors seeking financial aid, I would say that you’re not alone! Montclair can be a very prosperous bubble full of kids who don’t have to worry about finances. The reality is that the majority of the country struggles with tuition. So many kids work their way through college and if that ends up being your path, you are not alone! Take out loans, get jobs and think about going to state schools that cost less money. Going to the most “perfect” school doesn’t always mean you’ll come out with the best education and life lessons! America is full of wonderful colleges and universities and for that we are so blessed! Make sure you don’t limit yourself to the most prestigious and expensive schools for the wrong reasons. After having lived in other parts of the country and world, I can see the value of so many other schools outside of the East Coast. I would encourage you to expand your horizons to new areas and adventures!
What do you remember best about being at Montclair High School/Montclair?
The well-rounded atmosphere of Montclair High School is the most memorable for me. The diversity in combination with the talented teachers and athletics really molded me as a person. I came out of Montclair appreciating different kinds of people, feeling confident, capable and empowered.
Please describe any volunteer/community service during high school?
During high school I served in the Key Club, served through my sports teams, volunteered with Special Olympics, through my church, and at various other events in town.