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C of I celebrates awarding of full academic scholarship

January 5, 2019

It’s a scene sports fans have seen play out on television and social media hundreds of times. A smiling teenager sitting in front of a college backdrop with parents and school leaders declaring his or her intent to compete athletically at that college.

Except on Friday, 17-year-old Ian Clifford was sitting in front of a group of people inside Sterry Hall on The College of Idaho’s campus, declaring his intent to attend the school. And study biology. Maybe even add a second major, like math. He’s also interested in journalism.

Clifford, a senior at Renaissance High School in Meridian, will be attending The College of Idaho this fall on a full academic scholarship, fully funded by an anonymous donor.

“I was pretty nervous,” Clifford admitted of the ceremony, attended by his parents, T.J. Clifford and Ida-Louise Smit, along with staff and faculty from the College.

“I think it’s awesome that we’re celebrating academic achievement in a similar way that we celebrate athletic achievement,” said Vice President of Enrollment Management Brian Bava. “It sends a clear message to the rest of the community about the high caliber of academics that are here at The College of Idaho and that is something that is important to us.”

High-caliber indeed. Clifford has a Grade Point Average north of 4.1, courtesy of the International Baccalaureate classes available at Renaissance, and scored a 35 (out of a possible 36) on the ACT.

Clifford’s older brother, Andrew, also attends the College but was not able to make it to Friday’s event because of class. When asked if the decision to attend The College of Idaho was difficult, Clifford said it wasn’t.

“Academically, it’s a great college. It has a good liberal arts program, it has a swim program, which is great, too,” Clifford said. “And then, having my brother, who has always been a role model to me and also a really close friend, it was never even close (to choosing another school).”

And, yes, swimming. Clifford is an accomplished swimmer who will compete for the College’s swim team as well. But Friday was geared toward his academic prowess.

“The fact that he’s at a great school like Renaissance, he’s doing the IB (International Baccalaureate) program, that really elevates him to the top among our pool (of applicants),” Bava noted. “Having students like Ian, who are great students in the classroom but also great people, just elevates the community in so many different ways.”

You can see some of the signing event here.

The College of Idaho has a 127-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit