Cloquet grad makes Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list
Cloquet’s Luke Heine was on the floor of his Singapore host brother’s bedroom sleeping on a Care Bears-patterned mattress when he got a “Congrats” message from a friend via Facebook Messenger.
“I thought, ‘Congrats for what?’” Heine recalled in a phone interview from Singapore Monday night. “Then I saw a bunch more (messages) and then I opened up my email and saw that we won.”
Heine chuckles, an actual “ha ha” noise with a lot of joy in it.
“It’s just a funny place to find out the news.”
The news was that Heine, 22, and Cole Scanlon, 20, made the Forbes 30 under 30 (2017) list in the education category. They were nominated — and ultimately chosen — for their Fair Opportunity Project, a college application and financial aid guide distributed free to 57,000 high schools in the United States.
One of the schools using the guide is Cloquet High School, where Heine graduated at the top of his class in 2013. He said he spoke to former cross country coach and teacher Mike Bushey recently, and got good feedback about the guide.
“They’re putting it to work and that’s the whole point,” Heine said. “We put together the best resources, then rigorously reviewed it and took an active approach to get it in the hands of the kids that can use it. That’s why we sent it to so many high schools. It’s free, it’s in a pdf, and we tell them to print it and share it with anyone and everyone.”
Written by students from top colleges, the Forbes profile notes, the guide includes information about standardized testing, interviewing, financial aid and scholarships, as well as timelines. They’re currently working to translate the guide into Spanish and Mandarin.
“I’m glad we won,” added Heine, who chose Harvard after considering offers from several other colleges. “I hope kids will make it work and get their own opportunities.”
Heine and his cofounder, Scanlon, are in elite company. The annual list includes “30 game changers” in 20 different industries, 600 in total. In its “Meet The 2017 Class of 30 Under 30” article, Forbes staff writer Caroline Howard calls the list “the most definitive gathering of today’s leading young change-makers and innovators in the U.S.”
Heine shouldn't be an unfamiliar name to Pine Journal readers. He interned at the Pine Journal over the summer of 2013, writing about everything from the "gentleman's club" in Scanlon to the Ojibwe language camp started by Jim and Pat Northrup. Heine went to Churchill Elementary, Cloquet Middle School and CHS, where he participated in numerous activities, including cross country running, theater, tennis, track and Knowledge Bowl. He was also president of both the National Honor Society and the Student Council.
Heine’s own story laid the groundwork for the project, even if he didn’t know it then. Because he knew he had to finance his own post-secondary education, he worked hard in school and studied to get a better ACT score after he didn’t dazzle the first time around. He also used his brain, combined with a fairly fearless and outgoing personality, to negotiate better financial aid between the different colleges he applied to.
"The process that I used to receive a better financial aid package was applying to top-rated, high financial aid schools, and then using their offers to barter between them in order to receive a better deal,” he said. “I started out by applying to a public school and getting a full-tuition scholarship, which I then used to negotiate with private schools."
Growing up in Cloquet helped prepare Heine for the world, he noted Monday.
“It teaches you to be scrappy,” he said. “It teaches you to make your own opportunities and to hustle from a young age. Cloquet is awesome in the sense that there is just a no-nonsense, get-it-done attitude. I think that’s a valid lesson you can take anywhere in the world.”
The real benefit from being part of the Forbes list, Heine stressed, is the added publicity that comes with it, which means more kids will find out about the Fair Opportunity Project, and hopefully use it to jumpstart their own college careers.
“A lot of people charge money for these kind of resources, tens of thousands of dollars if you can believe it,” Heine said. “We put it in one place and got it out there for free.”
Heine gave a lot of credit for the success of the project to “the team” that helped put it together, and his cofounder Scanlon. Heine also credited all those who were part of his growing-up years in Cloquet.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the community and teachers supporting me from a young age,” Heine said, “along with family helping me dream big and building the work ethic to do it.”
A junior, Heine doesn’t have any set career goals after college. That’s OK, he said.
“This is a time of exploration,” he said, explaining that he was in Singapore for 17 days working on a report on Singapore’s venture capitalist and entrepreneurship scene for a lab he runs, by conducting interviews with investors, CEOs, government officials and more.
CHS Principal Warren Peterson shared his idea of what Heine could accomplish during the Cloquet School Board meeting Monday.
“If you want to start planning who to elect as our next president, it will be Luke,” Peterson said, nodding his head. “He is unbelievable. He just keeps popping up.”