Grace Bentien, 17, an independent study student at Horizon Charter Schools, signed a Letter of Intent today to attend Texas A&M University where she will study communications and participate in western equestrian riding.
Ironically, as a young child Grace feared horses. With the help of her family she overcame that fear and turned it into an opportunity for a scholarship to attend a top-rated university.
“My mom believed in versatility and encouraged me to ride English. This led to a lot of different sub categories of riding,” Grace explained. “In English, I eventually got a couple off the track thoroughbreds and (rode) pleasure and equitation, hunter under saddle, jumping, a little bit of dressage, and my favorite of English, which was cross-country.”
Grace’s specialty is reining. She has competed in shows held by the National Reining Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association.
“I eventually fell into the industry my mom is currently in, which is reining,” Grace explained. “It’s definitely my favorite of the events and it’s the one that’s taking me to college.”
Before choosing a university, Grace and her family visited several Division I equestrian colleges, but she fell in love with Texas A&M. She participated in a summer camp in hopes the coaches would notice her ability and they did. She received a verbal offer early this past spring.
Grace attributes some of her success to her years as an independent-study student with Horizon Charter Schools. The many class choices, flexibility and support gave her the opportunity to pursue her dreams and strengthen her skills in the equestrian arena while getting a quality education.
According to Grace, independent study through Horizon Charter Schools “made all the difference in the world. I had one-on-one experiences with my teacher and guidance counselor. They helped keep me on a track for success and were always willing to work around my crazy schedule.”
MeloraKlusnick, Bentien’s guidance counselor, was instrumental in helping Grace further her goals. Melora reviewed Grace’s transcripts, NCAA eligibility rules, and the university’s requirements, then set up a chart to help the family ensure Grace met all the requirements to secure the scholarship.
“She did that by taking a rigorous course load and also took five courses at Sierra College,” Melora remarked of Grace’s efforts. “She is a hard worker and maintains a very high 4.12 GPA.”
Grace’s supervising teacher, Marilyn Beaumont, said her student demonstrated outstanding work as a freshman, including scoring 100% on her fall semester finals. In spite of her travel commitments for horse shows and exhibitions, Grace kept up with the rigorous demands of her educational goals and excelled in her classes at both Horizon Charter Schools and Sierra College.
“Horizon gave me the opportunity to travel, compete and live the lifestyle I do,” Grace reflected. “It blessed me with the opportunity to be my best.”