The Gates Millennium Scholars program is a scholarship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that provides full support for its college-bound recipients, covering all of their expenses. One thousand students are selected each year, and nearly one billion dollars has been awarded in the decade since its inception. The process of becoming a Gates Scholar is rigorous; eligible students must have outstanding academic achievement, write several essays, and show involvement in their community. The scholarship is also designated for disadvantaged minority students.
Flint has become accustomed to delivering her fair share of Gates Scholars in recent years, and this year is no exception, as the Flint Public Schools provided four students on the list of recipients. Take a moment to meet these inspiring students.
Jade graduated with a 3.9 grade point average from Southwestern Classical Academy. She will attend college at Wayne State University this fall to study nursing, specializing in anesthesia. Jade played volleyball, French horn in band, and was a member of the National Honor Society while in high school. Jade was also involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as a supplemental education program at the University of Michigan-Flint called Saturday Morning Academy.
Seeing other students from Flint receive the Gates scholarship motivated Jade to fill out the application. Concerning future plans, Jade would like to return to Flint after college. She says, “I know Flint needs a lot of work, but I like the city, so I want to come back to be a nurse here.”
Asia graduated with a 3.8 G.P.A. from Southwestern Classical Academy. She will attend the James Madison College at Michigan State University to study comparative cultures and politics with the goal of becoming a lawyer. Asia is not the kind to cower in the face of a challenge, thus she would prefer to pass the bar in New York since she understands that it is considered one of the nation’s more challenging bar exams. Asia was a member of NHS, served as vice president of student senate, and was the student representative for the Flint Board of Education.
Asia says her mother motivated her to apply for the Gates scholarship. She dreams big, and has proven herself as one who can achieve those dreams. She once worked with Michigan Community Services Commission assisting the disabled, so she’d like to eventually become a defense attorney to provide her services free of charge to the disabled. Asia credits her faith in God as enabling her to reach her goals.
“I have God on my side, and I know that through him, all things are possible.”
David graduated with a 3.6 G.P.A. from Southwestern Classical Academy. He is one year younger than his sister and co-recipient, Asia, but the two were able to attend school in the same academic year growing up. These siblings represent the rare case of a brother and sister receiving the Gates Scholarship in the same year. David will attend the College of Natural Sciences at Michigan State as a pre-med student, which is the first step toward his dream of becoming an oncologist.
David enjoyed many aspects of high school. He ran track, and was a member of NHS and student senate. He admits that at times he wasn’t as focused as he should have been, but when it came to becoming a Gates Scholar, he says he wanted to prove that he could do it, so with Asia and his mom as motivators, he applied to the scholarship program.
“I would start slacking, and I even stopped writing one of the essays for a whole month, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit.”
Jalen graduated with a 3.9 G.P.A. from Northern High School. He plans to attend the Florida Institute of Technology to study mechanical and aerospace engineering in hopes of eventually studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jalen took a laissez-faire approach to the Gates scholarship, saying he just heard of it and decided to apply, not thinking anything more of it at the time.
Jalen is an all-around star: a student-athlete, scholar and committed volunteer. He played football and basketball and ran track. He is also a talented musician who has played viola for the Flint Institute of Music for 15 years. Jalen has volunteered for Red Cross blood drives and for local food drives and often participates in citywide community clean-ups. He says, “Anyone who really needs help, I’m willing to help them.”
Jalen has proven that he truly is willing to help anyone in need, but this begs the question, to whom does he turn when he needs help of his own? David Green, Jalen’s brother, is the man who helps the man who helps everyone. David helped raise Jalen, which became a full-time thing after their grandmother passed away last year. Jalen looks forward to college and also returning to Flint in the future.
“I’m glad the high school chapter is over because there are so many big things I want to do in life and now I can finally do it, but I will definitely return to Flint. I want to help restore the city to its original prime.”
These students are a testament to the possibilities afforded to students of the Flint Public Schools and everyone who resides in Flint. May their examples be motivation for any of our readers who have considered quitting to continue reaching for their dreams.