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Northeast alum, volunteer prepares for college

From Northeast to the North East


Ben Erger, a Brighton High senior, is a smart, assertive, caring overachiever from a farm in Hudson, CO. Starting next fall, he will be all those things, but living in a world far removed from farm life. Thanks to his hard work, big dreams and the QuestBridge National College Match, Ben will be attending Columbia University in New York City this coming fall.

 ben stands in front of school sign holding columbia university banner

QuestBridge National College Match connects high-achieving, low-income high school seniors with full four-year scholarships to the nation’s top colleges. In 2019, nearly 15,000 students applied and the top 1,127 students (including Ben!) were chosen to receive a generous financial aid package provided by the college that covers the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.


Ben had to complete a rigorous application, including five essays and two letters of recommendation, to be considered. He has only been to New York City once during his freshman year of high school and as fate would have it, one of the places he visited and was mesmerized by was Columbia University. Fast forward a few years and he is on his way to majoring in economics and minoring in elementary education there.


Why a minor in education? Good question; even better story.


Ben attended Northeast Elementary and has always had affection for the teachers who helped start him on his path to academic and personal success. Being the overachiever he freely admits to being, Ben had completed almost all required high school credits by the end of his sophomore year. As a senior, he only needed to take three classes. He had been volunteering at Northeast since sixth grade and knew he wanted to find a way to spend more time volunteering at the school.

ben works with two students in a classroom


Working with counselors at Brighton High and Northeast Kindergarten teacher Lynne Craig, Ben was able to receive work experience credit for his time at Northeast (16 hours per week). In total, Ben has volunteered over 1,700 hours at Northeast since the sixth grade.


Most days you can find Ben reading to students, helping them get to and from classes, tutoring, and assisting teachers and office staff. This experience has deeply impacted Ben and showed him that teaching is his calling and something he not only enjoys, but something he excels at doing. 


“There is something special and unique about Ben. He has demonstrated a commitment to Northeast that goes far beyond what would be expected of our high school volunteers,” said Toby Karr, principal at Northeast Elementary. “As a Northeast alum, Ben has embraced our values, centered around believing in KIDS. His interaction with our students puts each of their needs in the forefront and allows for him to support the learning that is necessary for them to succeed. Both staff and students alike adore Ben and look forward to his time in our building each day. Ben's passion for supporting and serving others will allow for him to be successful throughout his schooling at Columbia University and into his career. We wish him the best of luck with all that his future holds.”