Paying for college is a struggle for some families, and for 18-year-old Contessa Boorman, she's covering most of the costs on her own.
Her mother was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, which meant she had to work while attending Woodbury High School in order to save up money for college.
This fall, she started at the Carlson School of Management (CSM) at the University of Minnesota and hopes to complete her degrees in marketing, international business, Spanish and French. The Salvation Army also gifted Boorman a $3,000 scholarship, which she said will help shoulder some of the burden of paying for college.
After taking several college-level classes in high school, she will be starting at CSM as a junior and plans to graduate within two years in order cut down on the amount of debt from school. She also accomplished this feat while holding down a job and an internship.
While in school, she was also captain of the the Woodbury High School speech team and participated in Girl Scouts.
At more than $13,000 per year for tuition alone at the U, Boorman saved money from working a full-time internship job at Ashland Productions in Maplewood and the boost from the Salvation Army, she said, helps. "I want to graduate with minimal debt. That's kind of the goal," she said.
Boorman said the encouragement she's received from her family, mentors at Ashland Productions and community at Woodbury High School was critical for her success. "Without their support, I wouldn't be where I am today," she said.
After college, she said she hopes to work for the United Nations or another international group to advocate for women's rights, as well as attend graduate school.
"I want to do international sales, but I also want to give back," she said. "Advocating for women's rights globally I think is a really important part as well. My philosophy is you work really hard, but then after that you have to help others as well."
The Salvation Army's Linden Scholarship has been around since 1976 and aims to help financially needy young people pay for post-secondary education. The scholarship also requires applicants to explain how they want to give back to their communities.
Mallory Birch, a social services director at The Salvation Army, said many of its recipients are first-generation college students, though it isn't a requirement.
In some cases, Birch said, the committee that reviews applications has also helped recipients who have trouble adjusting to college life their first year by connecting them with on-campus tutors and other resources.
"We can't necessarily come alongside someone when they're at school, but we can do a little bit to get students connected rather than just writing a check," she said.
Birch said The Salvation Army typically posts the scholarship applications in January.