Hermantown High School senior Addison Gray was worried about the cost of college and how she was going to pay for it.

“College is an arm and a leg,” Addison said. “The more you look into it, the more money pops up that you owe somewhere and it’s overwhelming.”

Addison started applying for every scholarship she was eligible for, and it ended up paying off.

She was at home Nov. 17 spending most of the day worrying about her father, Kevin Gray, who had recently been hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19. She had been eating lunch when she got a call from her uncle saying they had to move her father to the intensive care unit because he was having trouble breathing and needed more oxygen options.

“It was really disheartening to hear and really scary to hear,” Addison said. “I was just sitting there with my mom trying to figure out what to do.”

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Addison Gray and her father, Kevin Gray, pose for a portrait in their home Wednesday, Feb. 3. In November, Kevin was being treated for COVID-19 in the ICU at St. Luke's when Addison received a phone call. Worried about her father she answered it only to learn she won a $10,000 scholarship from U.S. Bank. Kevin recalls breathlessly asking her if it was a scam. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)
Addison Gray and her father, Kevin Gray, pose for a portrait in their home Wednesday, Feb. 3. In November, Kevin was being treated for COVID-19 in the ICU at St. Luke's when Addison received a phone call. Worried about her father she answered it only to learn she won a $10,000 scholarship from U.S. Bank. Kevin recalls breathlessly asking her if it was a scam. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)

That’s when Addison received a call from a number she didn’t recognize. Thinking it was her dad’s doctor, she answered it.

That call was from a U.S. Bank representative letting her know she won a $10,000 scholarship.

“I was shocked,” Addison said. “I’m still shocked. Most people don’t usually get a call saying they got a $10,000 scholarship.”

U.S. Bank offers a sweepstakes type of scholarship; all students have to do is complete financial education lessons to enter. The more lessons a student completes, the more money they are eligible to receive. The lessons include topics such as managing student loans and creating a budget.


"I really like helping people and since my dad was in the hospital I’ve just wanted to be one of those people on the frontlines helping other people."

— Addison Gray, Hermantown High School senior


Kevin Gray is doing fine now after a 26-day stay at St. Luke's hospital. But dealing with COVID-19 didn’t stop him from being a cautious dad.

“My first comment after 'congratulations' was, ‘Are you sure this is real?’ Kevin said.

Kevin asked Addison who called her. He wrote down the name and then called his personal banker at U.S. Bank to confirm it was real.

“Ten thousand dollars is real money and it’s a difference-maker that will cover quite a lot of the tuition costs and other costs,” Kevin said. “So we’re just grateful for foundations and institutions that step and do things like this.”

Addison is planning to attend the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the fall and hopes to become a nurse.

“I really like helping people and since my dad was in the hospital, I’ve just wanted to be one of those people on the front lines helping other people,” Addison said. “I saw a couple of nurses on FaceTime and they were with him, helping him when nobody else can because of COVID-19.”

Addison was one of more than 50,000 applicants for the 2020 round of the U.S. Bank scholarship, so as Kevin said, it took a bit of luck for her to receive such an award.

“Our scholarships are random sweepstakes drawings, but this certainly doesn’t feel random,” said Kaori Yamada, senior vice president of financial education strategy at U.S. Bank.