Addison Hoermann moved from upstate New York to Colorado when she was 12, but always dreamed of returning to New England for college.
In Longmont, Colorado, where her mother worked as a project manager at Applegate, Addie worked toward that goal during her high school years, joining leadership programs, taking AP classes and making the National Honor Society.
She was excited to get into the University of Massachusetts in Boston, but had misgivings once she moved onto the campus. The brutalist architecture clashed with her fantasies of elegant stone lecture halls and she felt lost among the other 15,000 students. After her first semester, she returned home to finish her freshman year at Front Range Community College, taking advantage of Hormel’s Inspired Pathways scholarships, which cover community college tuition for the children of Hormel employees.
But Addie didn’t give up on her fantasy of attending university in New England. During the time she lived in Boston, a school in central Massachusetts had caught her eye: Smith College, a highly selective private liberal arts women’s college.
Smith was the opposite of UMass in many ways. There were only 2,873 students. A mixture of modern and historical buildings dotted the leafy, postcard-ready 147-acre campus along the Mill River. And instead of living in massive dorms crowded with hundreds of other students, Smithies lived in relatively small residences of 10–100 students.
The Joy of Acceptance and Help with Financial Aid
Back in Colorado, Addie applied to Smith and waited. At long last, she received the joyful news that she was one of the 19% of applicants accepted by the prestigious institution. But there was one problem: the price tag. At $61,568 a year, the tuition for Smith College was twice that of UMass.
“We got financial aid but not enough,” says her mom, Theresa Hoermann. “We couldn’t afford the rest of the cost, and didn’t want to take out any more loans. It would have been a hardship.”
The Inspired Pathways program is best known for providing two-year community college scholarships to children of Hormel Foods employees, but it also offers a wide range of college counseling, including financial aid navigation, to help pave the path to a four-year college. Knowing this, Theresa reached out to Nate Lockett, director of the Hormel Inspired Pathways Scholarship program, who reviewed her materials and advised an additional course of action, including setting up and joining Addie for a meeting with Smith’s dean of financial aid to request additional aid. Nate helped her prepare the appeal forms they discussed with Smith’s representatives.
“Nate took the worry out of my hands,” Theresa says. “He stepped in where his expertise was, and I knew I was in good hands.”
As a result of the additional efforts, Addie was awarded a significantly larger sum of scholarships from the college totaling more than $80,000 over four years, and Theresa was able to qualify for a Federal Parent PLUS loan to cover the remaining balance.
A Small College Is a Good Fit
This fall, Addie officially became a Smithie and moved into Duckett House, a four-story, yellow clapboard house built in 1810 where just 37 students live. It takes her five minutes to walk to class or to Northampton’s charming downtown. She’s bonded with her roommate, an Oregonian whom she describes as “very outdoorsy,” and with whom she’s gone on several hikes.
“It’s an amazing environment and I’m loving it so far,” says Addie. “And because it’s a smaller school, I can actually have a personal relationship with my professors.” When she enrolled in a German class several weeks into the semester, for instance, the professor met with Addie for an hour after class three times a week until she got up to speed.
Although Addie hasn’t yet declared a major, part of the reason she found Smith appealing was its strong emphasis on STEM programs: Nearly 50% of graduates earn a degree in science, technology, engineering or math.
“I’m exploring math-based majors right now and just taking different classes,” she says.
After her last class before the weekend, a Friday afternoon lab, Addie returns to Duckett House for her favorite Smith tradition: the Friday Tea. For more than 100 years, Smithies have gathered over mugs of hot tea to socialize and reflect on their lives.
“It’s really just like a time to connect with people in your house and decompress from the week,” she says. “I love the little traditions that Smith has. It’s everything I’d hoped for.”