BRIGHTON — Two Brighton High School seniors have been awarded the Daniels Scholarship. Grant Shibao of Brighton and Chris Horiuchi of Fort Lupton were two of 250 seniors in four states honored with full-ride scholarships to the college of their choice.
Horiuchi said the scholarship process took forever but that it was “totally worth it” because now his college and his dreams are paid for. He said he thought his personal interview as a semi-finalist was more like a 30-minute conversation and although he was confident it went well, he really had no idea until he received his congratulatory letter a couple weeks ago.
“I’m so grateful towards the Daniels Fund because without that, I would have been so worried about how I can pay for college and having to worry about student debt after,” he said.
After participating in his interview as a semi-finalist, Shibao said he didn’t really know how it went. He started getting nervous after hearing some of the scholarship recipients were being invited to the capital but the package came the next day. He was jumping with joy and his mom was in tears.
“It was definitely an emotional two weeks waiting for it; thinking about what I did right, what I could have done better,” he said.
Shibao has been involved in student government since his freshman year and is the student body president. He has been a member of National Honor Society since his sophomore year, a member of the Link Crew, a two-time captain of the varsity swim team, received his academic letter and was awarded academic all state in swimming and golf.
One of his favorite organization in the community is the Brighton Japanese American Association and has fond memories of helping with its annual chow mein dinner since he was “really little.” Growing up, Shibao didn’t always embrace being Japanese American but says finding BJAA — an organization that allowed him to focus on his heritage and where he could express who he is — helped him in a positive way.
The 18-year-old will be attending CU Boulder in the fall, where he plans to major in prelaw or toxicology and will be a member of the swim team.
His interest in toxicology comes from growing up in a single-parent household where a medical bill could be a nightmare.
“I always really thought it was pretty interesting how going to the pharmacist could cost so much…and I wanted to kind of change that,” he said. “What I’ve started looking into is to either come back and start a pharmacy where I could help out families with financial need, or go into research and find those generic brands of prescriptions to cut down that cost.”
His interest in law stems from his mom who has always worked for the court system. He said he grew up around lawyers and judges and thinks they’re fascinating people and has learned a lot from them. His sister is pursuing a law degree and thinks it would be cool to start a family firm.
Shibao said the four years in high school flew by and that he’s looking forward to graduation.
“I can’t believe it’s less than three weeks away. It’s pretty exciting because it’s kind of closing the door in high school but opening a whole new one for college,” he said.
Horiuchi also has a number of leadership roles in Brighton High School as well as in the Japanese-American community. He’s a member of the National Honor Society, one of the drum majors in the marching band, plays trumpet and trombone, played golf all four years and was captain of the varsity golf team.
Outside of school Horiuchi is co-president of the Denver Young Buddhists Association, one of the teachers of Denver Junior Taiko and one of the members of Chibi No Gako, a Japanese heritage school that teaches second through eighth graders about their Japanese heritage.
Horiuchi will be going to Colorado State University in the fall where he has decided to major in sociology with a focus on criminal justice and a minor in music composition and performance. Horiuchi has loved CSU for years because their marching band is phenomenal and said he plans to join the marching band in the fall.
He would like to work with K-9 officers and work through the police department until he can become a detective. He wants to work in law enforcement because when things got really contentious during his parent’s divorce, law enforcement officers were there for him.
“The cops were always there, they made me feel comfortable, they made me feel safe,” he said. “So I want to be able to do something that could make other kids that are in the same situation that I was feel secure like how the cops helped me.”
Horiuchi said he too is looking forward to graduating as well.
“I’m so excited to graduate and go on to the next step in my life, especially now that financially I don’t have to worry about it. It will allow me to be more focused on my studies instead of having to worry, ‘oh my gosh, how am I going to pay this all back once I’m done,’” he said.