WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School senior Austin Cowley has been named a recipient of the GE–Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute scholarship.
According to the foundation’s website, “The GE–Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program honors the legacy and character of our nation’s 40th president by rewarding college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity and citizenship with financial assistance to pursue higher education. Through the generous support of GE, this national program annually awards $10,000 renewable scholarships to numerous students.”
Cowley was one of 10 applicants selected from a pool of 14,000. He will be eligible to receive $10,000 per year of college, for a total of $40,000.
“I heard about the scholarship from the high school guidance department when they posted it on Google Classroom,” Cowley said. “At first I did not really think anything of it, but my mom told me I should apply. I did more research into it, and decided I had a chance, so I went ahead with the application.
“Receiving this prestigious award and honor is very humbling,” he continued. “It is very special to me to become a foundation scholar for many reasons. My father is from Dixon, Ill., which is President Ronald Reagan’s hometown. Both my dad and President Reagan attended North Dixon High School, and my dad actually met and toured President Reagan there when he came to visit.
“My parents always said that President Reagan was their favorite president, and I have to believe my father, who passed away in November of 2020, is one of the reasons I received this honor,” Cowley concluded.
Cowley’s experiences at West Orange High School have provided numerous leadership and growth experiences. He is a four-year member of the Air Force JROTC, a member of the Civil Air Patrol and AFJROTC Kitty Hawk Air National Honor Society, and has received the JROTC Military Order of the Purple Heart. He is captain of the lacrosse team, a member of the wrestling team and a Mountaineer Mentor. He belongs to the National Society of High School Scholars, the Future Business Leaders of America Club, the Skills USA Club, the Italian Club, Junior State of America organization and American Legion Jersey Boys State organization; studies in the Cyber Security Academy; and is a Nikhil Badlani Foundation board member. Academically, he regularly appears on the high honor roll.
Interested in politics, Cowley has worked on mayoral, congressional and gubernatorial campaigns. He plans to attend the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the fall to major in political science with a minor in international relations. He will be part of the Navy ROTC on campus.
“As an American, patriot, leader and Republican, it is such an honor to receive this scholarship,” Cowley said. “I want to dedicate it to my late father and honor his legacy. I want to thank my family and my mother for the continuous support and love they give me — without them I would not be who I am today. Lastly, I want to thank all of my teachers, mentors, coaches, the high school and the town of West Orange for the support I have received from them all.”