Honoring Mariah Becker: A Legacy Campaign

As the Uncommon Student Award program approaches its November 4th culmination, the 26th annual Helen and Stanley How Presentation Day, you can join us today in commemorating the legacy of Mariah Becker, an inspiring USA student.

Mariah Ann Becker was born in Davenport, Iowa on September 21, 1982. She died there on November 5, 2002 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  Although her life was short, her accomplishments were great, and her impact on others was tremendous. She was voted Outstanding Delegate at the Governor’s Conference and was captain of her Mock Trial team, being voted Outstanding Attorney for three years. Mariah was a national finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She participated in band, choir, orchestra, marching band and show choir and was a member of National Honor Society and Key Club.

For the Hoover program, Mariah developed an internet web site to promote youth volunteerism in the community (www.qcyouthvolunteers.org).

We’re celebrating the Mariah Becker Volunteer Leadership Award endowment to empower future leaders in her name. The award recognizes a student project that embodies or promotes the spirit of volunteerism and leadership.

Your support will carry Mariah’s vision forward. Let’s keep her light shining bright for generations of USA students to come.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 Uncommon Students!

  • William Brown, Altoona
  • Mallory Carslake, Bettendorf
  • Andrew Dong, Iowa City
  • Marygrace Fairchild, Sioux City
  • Madelaine Fischer, Anamosa
  • Jacob Forney, West Des Moines
  • Keegan Herzmann, Cedar Falls
  • Olivia Marti, Waukon
  • Joseph Semelroth, Cedar Rapids
  • Kritika Sharma, Ames
  • Rithvika Sivaprakash, Cedar Rapids
  • Jetsamany Solis, West Liberty
  • Leah Thomas, Clive
  • Anika Yadav, Waukee
  • Dragon Zheng, Robins

The Purpose of the Uncommon Student Award

Applications are closed for 2023.

The Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award is a $10,000 scholarship program for Iowa high school juniors. The program is designed to attract students who are motivated and community minded. The award, which honors Herbert Hoover, an Iowa native and the 31st President of the United States, identifies approximately 15 Iowa high school juniors who propose and then accomplish projects of their own design. The projects the students propose should demonstrate the values that Herbert Hoover exemplified in his life of public service.

Grades, test scores, essays and financial need are not evaluated. Each of the 15 finalists will receive a $1,500 cash award at the completion of the program. Four of those could earn an additional $10,000 scholarship each, for a total of $11,500!

USA Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for this award in 2023, applicants must be a U.S citizen, a junior in an Iowa high school or home schooled program in the spring of 2023, with a high school graduation date of spring 2024.

Students chosen for the 2023 Uncommon Student Class are required to be at the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa between 9:00 a.m. Saturday, June 17 until 1 p.m. Sunday, June 18, 2023. If you cannot attend, then you cannot receive the award. Students are required to give a presentation at the library and museum sometime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 4 2023.


The foundation will provide housing and meals for students for the June Weekend Meeting.

Uncommon Student Award Application Deadline

The application deadline for the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award is March 15, 2023.

Uncommon Student Award Application Process

Both the Student Application Form and the Recommendation Form (two required) must be submitted online. Keep in mind, you cannot save data typed into these forms. Please print your completed form before submitting if you would like a copy for your records. 

It is important and in the best interest of the applicant to view and read the links below before applying! The project proposal is in the form of questions. Think of your project as a business plan, in which you tell evaluators what your goal is and how you will get there. All answers together should be between 2-4 pages in length. We highly suggest creating a Word document and saving it, then pasting it into the the online application. 

For this project, you will need to answer the following:

  1. Benefits or importance of the project (why do you want to do this project?)
  2. Procedures you will use to complete your project (how are you going to do it?)
  3. Resources/materials you will use to complete your project?
  4. Mentors you will look to for guidance, if applicable (you must ask for agreement and note in proposal)?
  5. How have/will you show your leadership skills during this project?
  6. Have you incorporated volunteers? How?
  7. Conclusion or results you expect?
  8. How your work on this project relates to Herbert Hoover’s expertise as an organizer and leader (make sure to read up on Hoover before you write this section)?
  9. How did you find out about this program?

When writing your project proposal, clearly state the project goal and how you will reach it. Answer the questions why, who, what, where, when and how? Write the proposal in words you know. Keep it clear and simple and define any specialized vocabulary. Get necessary permissions BEFORE submitting the proposal and avoid language like, “If I get permission, I will…”. Evaluators need to see a reasonable chance of success. Lastly, ask an adult unfamiliar with your idea to read your proposal. They can tell you if there are details missing.



Projects are driven entirely by student interest. What do you like doing? What are you good at? Think about how you can make your interests into a project. Are there issues in your school or your community you would like to tackle? You may already be working on something or have accomplished a goal. In that case, base your proposal on that and take it to another level.

Projects are usually in the areas of entrepreneurship, community/humanitarian service, conservation, and technology. Read about Herbert Hoover to see how he was involved in all these areas and how he motivated others to help (making money is permissible).

Projects are individual, realistic and doable by you. Class projects are not eligible. Enlisting volunteers to help you accomplish your goal is acceptable and encouraged.

Note: You propose the project in your application. The project should not be completed before you start the program but it can have already been started. If your project is not completed by Presentation Day, that is OK. You will explain how the project will be continued.

Uncommon Student Award Resources

Past project examples

View sample applications from past Uncommon Student Award recipients.


Hear from past students, teachers, and parents about their experience with the Uncommon Student Award application.

On the Uncommon Man by Herbert Hoover

Read the On the Uncommon Man speech given by Herbert Hoover on November 11, 1948.

See the previous award recipients and project descriptions

View Recipients.

Download info for School Newsletters/Websites