Correction: This story was updated on Wednesday to correct the spelling of Brendan Norman's name. We apologize for the error.
A Frankfort High School alumnus is giving back to the school in order to help a graduating senior discover their passion.
Brendan Norman, who graduated from FHS in 2002, is funding the Explorer Scholarship, which will allow a graduating senior from the high school to travel during the summer and document the experience. Norman previously worked at Facebook and now works in advertising technology at a game development company called Unity.
“It was such an amazing experience," Norman said of his time at FHS. "I think it was pretty foundational and fundamental for me.”
He grew up in Switzer and went to Franklin County Schools before transferring to Frankfort Independent Schools in high school. His mom, Margaret Townsley, and stepdad, Ernie Lewis, still live in Frankfort.
Norman connected with FIS Superintendent Houston Barber shortly after he became superintendent and the district became part of a Facebook program while Norman was at the social media company. The two have remained in touch, Norman said.
After looking for a way to give back to the school district, Norman was inspired by a friend who sponsored a similar scholarship. Norman said his family traveled a lot when he was a child and he continues to travel often for his career and for pleasure. He wanted to give an incentive to a graduating senior to explore.
“Personally, I’ve learned so much about the world and people and myself traveling,” he said.
Eligible students must be an outbound senior who plans to go to college and have a 3.0 grade point average. To apply, students must submit a 300- to 500-word essay by Feb. 15 and include how the student would design the trip, what important elements they would consider while traveling, what they would like to learn and how the student hopes to grow from the experience. The winner will receive $1,500 and a new digital camera to use for travel before attending college.
The winning student will write a short story with photos or create a short film, at a minimum of five minutes, about the experience.
Barber said the scholarship is a great opportunity for Frankfort students by giving them an invaluable chance to explore other perspectives. The scholarship will be offered for several years to come.
“It allows students to gain cultural and life experience,” Barber said.