By Todd Martin

Special to the Daily Herald

A hard-working high school senior who puts in the hours in and out of the classroom was named a Dell Scholar, earning a $20,000 scholarship.

Matthew Abold of Harker Heights High School was on a break at his job at a local restaurant when he received word his application for the scholarship was accepted.

"I showed everyone around me and called my mom and other family. I was overjoyed," Abold said.

The scholarship from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation will significantly defray the cost of attending Texas State University, where Abold said he would study to become an emergency medical responder. As part of the scholarship, he also gets to pick a computer.

He continues to apply and receive word on grants and scholarships and hopes to take care of the cost of higher education without leaning on his mother, Cheryl Abold, a single mom with four sons.

To receive the scholarship, applicants must complete numerous essays, maintain high grades and be involved in a college readiness program. For Abold, that has meant being a part of Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID.

Being a part of AVID since seventh-grade gave Abold instruction in preparation and organization and kept him on track with college applications and deadlines.

"I believe Harker Heights High School and AVID gave me the tools to be successful and get the scholarship in the first place," he said.

"I want to go to school and get all the skills I can and live a sound life," said Abold.

Even as freshmen, AVID students begin researching colleges and scholarship opportunities and later in high school start writing essays to apply.

In addition, AVID provided Abold tutoring for English, math and other subjects and required him to maintain a 3-inch binder to stay organized through school.

Abold is a first-generation college student, which AVID teacher Wendy Athey said is the prototype AVID student.

"It's amazing," Athey said of Abold's high achievement. "He is exceptionally bright, articulate and polite."

The teacher took a group of students, including Abold on a field trip to Texas State University. "I'll never forget the excitement he showed walking through the campus. He said 'I found it,'" Athey said.

"It's exciting for me to see his excitement," the teacher said. "I couldn't be prouder. He's a real success story and the reason I do what I do."

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