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SOAR Scholarship: Future Environmental Engineer Honoring Mother’s Memory

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Hard work is best taught by example and from a young age, Tyler Hill had a great teacher - his Mom.

"She had two jobs," the Senior at United Township High School explained. "I remember I would go to daycare and then afterwards we'd have to have another babysitter watch me until whenever she came home. Some nights, I remember she didn't come home until like 3am because she was at work so late."

However, one of those nights - she didn't come home.

"My Mom passed away when I turned 5 and that was hard, because I mean, everyone wants to have their Mom," Tyler said.

"My Aunt was amazing," he added. "She took me in right away - no questions asked. She didn't have to do that and I'm just thankful for that and everything she's done for me."

Tyler's past is inspiring his present and future. He was a leader on the basketball team, an Illinois State Scholar, and now WQAD News 8 is making him a S.O.A.R. Scholarship Recipient, with the help of The Sedona Group.

"I didn't expect it was going to be for me," said Tyler. "I was kind of looking around thinking - Who is this for?"

Tyler is heading to Iowa State University to study Biological Systems Engineering. It's a discipline he discovered while cleaning up our area's rivers with Living Lands and Waters.

"It's ridiculous what you can find in the river and what people don't even think about when they toss it out," explained Tyler. "It just adds up a lot, even just a candy bar wrapper once in a while - it adds up. I remember I was down at the river and I probably pulled out 300 candy bar wrappers in 100 feet and it was just ridiculous on all the trash that was there."

Tyler plans to keep researching the environment to improve the world we live in - and make his Mom proud while doing so.

"Most of the time when I make a decision it's basically - what would my Mom think of this situation is she was watching me and so that's kind of how I base everything off of," said Tyler.

The S.O.A.R. Scholarship is all about a student's Strength, Optimism, Achievements, and Resolve. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded to five area high school seniors every year.