Meet the winners of the 2022 Linden Scholarship

Jul 20, 2022

Six bright young students have earned money for college through The Salvation Army’s Linden Scholarship

This year’s winners are majoring in nursing, biology, physics, math, and other admirable disciplines. All of the students volunteer regularly and are up-and-coming leaders. 

The Linden Scholarship was established in the mid-1970s by St. Paul native Pearl H. Linden and her two sisters, who left The Salvation Army $250,000 to help college-bound students in need of financial aid. Linden asked that the scholarships be awarded to those students who demonstrate community spirit and high moral standards. 

The one-time, non-renewable scholarship offers $3,000 for students pursuing a four-year degree and $1,500 for students in two-year programs.

“The Linden Scholarship demonstrates how estate planning can help create a lasting legacy that makes a difference in the lives of others,” said Brian Molohon, Executive Director of Development for The Salvation Army Northern Division.

Here are the winners of this year’s Linden Scholarships:

Elizabeth Abarca-Hernandez

Elizabeth Abarca-Hernandez graduated from Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul. She is majoring in nursing at the University of St. Thomas / St. Catherine University in St. Paul. 

Elizabeth spent years volunteering for a variety of local charities, including Feed My Starving Children, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies, and more. Among other extracurricular activities, she was a captain for the Highland Park girls’ soccer team for four years and a member of the National Honors Society for three years. 

Her ultimate goal is to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. 

“My career goal with becoming a nurse and pediatrician is to bring transformation into this world,” Elizabeth said. “Coming from a minority group, I have experienced the lack of representation of minority groups in the medical field. These injustices and inequalities are not going to vanish on their own; people have to work toward breaking this system of oppression.”

Her teachers are confident she will reach her goals.

“Elizabeth has unlimited potential,” one of her teachers said. “Her ambition and determination to succeed is unmatched.”

Margaret Balfanz

Margaret Balfanz graduated from Stillwater Area High School in Stillwater. She is majoring in biology at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Margaret is a talented member of the music and arts community, spending 10 years performing for the St. Croix Ballet. During the past four years, she also participated in her high school’s pep band and percussion ensemble, and she served as music librarian. 

For many years she has been active in Scouts BSA, recently earning the organization’s highest achievement – Eagle Scout. 

“Everyone has the means to help other people, whether it be through time, talent, treasure, or a combination of the three,” Margaret said. “The concept and action of helping others without expectation of recognition or compensation to me is truly the rewarding part of the experience.” 

Her words match her actions. 

“Margaret follows her moral beliefs – even against peer pressure – and is 100 percent trustworthy,” one of her scout leaders said. “She is friendly to all, a cheerful presence, and helpful without being asked.”

Vernice Horton

Vernice Horton graduated from North St. Paul High School. She is majoring in nursing at Minnesota State University-Mankato. 

She volunteers in myriad ways to assist her fellow students, such as tutoring; helping incoming freshmen with advice through a program called Link Crew; assisting children at a nearby elementary school; helping at local coat drives; and more. 

“Volunteering is where my heart is,” Vernice said. “Sometimes kids simply need to know they have somewhere who cares about them, not just their grades. I believe this is a big key in helping them improve and better themselves – I know it helped me.”

Her teachers know she will excel in her chosen career.

“I cannot wait to see Vernice succeed outside of high school,” one of her teachers said. “She is a natural leader and a hard worker. She leads with kindness and continues to strive to be the best version of herself.”

Arianna Martinez

Arianna Martinez graduated from Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul. She is majoring in physics at the University of Minnesota.

Arianna had a full schedule throughout high school, spending hundreds of hours volunteering for Youth in Action; Union Latino Association; Grupo de Jovenes (a Hispanic young adult group); her school’s parent-teacher-student association; and more.

She wants to start a career in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). 

“Going into the STEM field, my goal is to improve access to education and career opportunities for youth and communities,” she said.

Arianna’s teachers know her future is bright.

“Her leadership, thoughtfulness, and work ethic will lead her to success in life,” one of her teachers said.  

Rayan Taha

Rayan Taha graduated from Como Senior High School in St. Paul. He is majoring in math and IT at St. Olaf College in Northfield. 

Rayan gave his all during high school, earning MVP honors for the varsity basketball team while working up to 40 hours per week during the offseason and summer as an intern for Ameriprise Financial and Genesys Works. He also served as a youth mentor/tutor and he participated in the Speech and Debate Club. 

“Growing up low-income made me a very hard worker and influenced my interest in economics,” he said. “I hope to use my education for a career in economics and poverty alienation, to tackle persistent inequalities that lead to generational poverty.”

His teachers think he is one-of-a-kind. 

“Rayan is honest, hard-working, intelligent and personable,” said one of his teachers. “He will be very successful.”

Claire Wendland

Claire Wendland graduated from Mahtomedi High School in Mahtomedi. She is double-majoring in interior design and music (voice) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Claire participated in a wide range of activities throughout high school, including Minnesota All-State Choir, track and field, and a community service organization called Interact Club. 

“Community service is a passion that I intend to continue while in college and throughout my adult life because of how important it is to me,” Claire said.

Her teachers are excited to see how far she goes.

“Claire demonstrates utmost care and respect in everything she does when working with peers, the community and partner organizations,” one of her teachers said. “She values inclusion, collaborating with others, and contributing to her community through volunteerism and service.”

Are you Down for the Challenge? You can support The Salvation Army’s efforts to fight homelessness by donating to or participating in our Down for the Challenge urban rappelling event with the Minnesota Vikings. This once-in-a-lifetime event takes place July 29–30 at the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel during Vikings training camp.

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