Horatio Alger and the Importance of Education
Horatio Alger was a 19th century novelist whose stories centered on young entrepreneurs. His books were widely popular as they featured relatable heroes whom readers could understand and aspire to be like.
The protagonists in Alger’s novels came from difficult circumstances, but they were able to overcome challenges and make a good life for themselves through hard work and dedication. It’s the old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality that is so ingrained in the American culture of free enterprise.
Today, Horatio Alger and his works are honored by an organization that recognizes real-life people who emulate the characters from his books. The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is really a two-fold mission.
First, it honors entrepreneurial Americans who have become leaders by overcoming great odds. Each year, the association inducts a handful of community and business leaders as lifetime members. Past inductees include such greats as Dwight Eisenhower, Buzz Aldrin, Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, and Hank Aaron. All of these people grew up in humble circumstances, improved their lot in life through education and hard work, and became important leaders.
This past year, a dozen new members were inducted into the association. One of them, Frank VanderSloot, grew up on a tiny farm in rural Idaho. The home he grew up in didn’t even have indoor plumbing. VanderSloot worked to pay his own way through college, and today he is the CEO of $1 billion health and wellness company. He also is on the board of directors for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The second mission of the Horatio Alger Association is providing scholarships to high school students who have dealt with great adversity and challenges in their young lives. Scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate not only a real financial need, but tenacity, determination, and hard work.
Horatio Alger valued education as a vital part of achieving one’s goals, personal growth, and improvement in life. And now, the association that bears his name is carrying on his legacy by honoring today’s leaders and helping provide an education for tomorrow’s leaders.