Felino Macatuno and Rafael Bitanga

Felino Macatuno, right, and Rafael Bitanga were both awarded a 2019 Horatio Alger State Scholarship.

KODIAK — Recent Kodiak High School graduates Felino Macatuno and Rafael Bitanga are among five students to be awarded the 2019 Horatio Alger State Scholarship in Alaska. 

Macatuno and Bitanga will each receive $10,000 over 4 years.

It is one of the nation’s largest need-based college scholarship programs in the country and it specifically assists high school students who have faced and overcome great obstacles in their young lives, Bitanga explained in an email to the Kodiak Daily Mirror.

While many programs are directed primarily to recognizing academic achievement or leadership potential, the Horatio Alger Association seeks students who have exhibited determination, integrity, and perseverance in overcoming adversity, as well as have critical financial need.

Macatuno and Bitanga noted that the Horatio Alger Scholarship is not a well-known scholarship to many students mostly because of its early deadline; the application opens on August 1 and closes on October 25.

“I am thrilled and proud to have been selected as a 2019 Horatio Alger State Scholar,” Macatuno said, noting that he is most motivated by his mother and two sisters Honey Rose, and Angelika. “The application process enabled me to reflect on many aspects of my life including my single mother’s experiences, what it means to be a student athlete, and how the people around me in this close-knit community helped me grow into the person I am today.”

Macatuno will be attending the University of Idaho this fall to study computer science. 

“What is most inspiring for me is that Felino and I have lived in the same neighborhood since I arrived in Alaska in 2009,” Bitanga said. “We attended the same elementary school and our parents both worked at one of Kodiak’s canneries, and to win it together is just heartwarming. Winning this prestigious scholarship, especially with two students from an island off of nowhere, shows that our zip code should not and does not define our future.”

Bitanga will be leaving in mid-June to begin his classes for hotel and business administration at Cornell University.

Bitanga encouraged any high school students graduating next year to seize every opportunity to apply for scholarships to help fund their dreams of pursuing a higher education.

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