May 18, 2024

Bales Quoted in FLS Article About Local Scholarship Winner

UMW Reference and Humanities Librarian Emeritus Jack Bales was recently quoted in an article in The Free Lance-Star about Beheshta Nassari, a local young woman who came to Fredericksburg as a 18-year-old refugee from Afghanistan. Determined to graduate from high school before the cutoff age of 21, Nassari learned English in three years, and, in the midst of a pandemic, completed her junior and senior year requirements. For that, Nassari’s counselor at James Monroe High School nominated her for a scholarship through the Horatio Alger Society, which is holding its annual convention this weekend, organized by Bales.

When members of the Horatio Alger Society, which is holding its annual convention in Fredericksburg this coming weekend, looked for a student to honor who embodied the self-reliance, perseverance and strength of character Alger wrote about, counselors nominated Nassari.

“From my interactions with Beheshta, she is a very respectful and kind individual,” said Tiffany McGillivray, counselor at James Monroe. “She holds true to her faith and values her family. She is diligent in her studies … [and] I wholeheartedly believe she is a deserving student for this award.

Jack Bales, emeritus librarian at the University of Mary Washington, is hosting the Alger event. He contacted other society board members, who agreed that Nassari is the perfect choice for its “Strive and Succeed” award and scholarship of at least $500.

Bales read every single one of more than 100 books penned by the author in the mid-19th century. The belief that hard work leads to success struck a chord with him and his eight brothers and sisters, who all had jobs in high school and worked their way through college.

As he’s learned the background of this year’s award winner, Bales has come to believe that Nassari’s story rivals any of the obstacles faced by characters in Alger’s books.

“She clearly out-Algers Horatio Alger,” he said. Read more.