With college tuition continuously increasing, paying for college is a huge financial commitment. But thanks to the hard work of four students who recently received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, writing big checks and financial aid will not be necessary. The prestigious scholarship, which only 1,000 students throughout the U.S. win each year, entitles them to a full ride to the university of their choice. Preuss School winners Erick Hernandez, Miriam Million, Karina Santellano and Alex Tesfamichael were selected based on their academics, leadership, and extracurricular activities.
Here is one winner's story:
Name: Karina Santellano
School: The Preuss School
Accomplishment: Winner of Gates Millennium Scholarship
Key to Awesomeness: As Karina describes it, she was having a pretty rough day before she found out that she had been chosen as a Gates Millennium Scholar. After returning from a visit to Duke University, the high school senior was swamped with work and preparing for an AP chemistry exam. After missing the bus home and hearing from her brother that she had received a “small” envelope from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she was all the more discouraged. Luckily, Karina soon realized that her brother had lied as he approached her with a huge packet.
“I was feeling a mixture of extreme happiness as well as anger at my brother for tricking me,” she said.
Receiving the news that she had been chosen as a recipient of the scholarship allowed Karina to secure her spot at Duke University in the fall. While she admits that the application process was quite grueling (eight essays to be exact), she says that it was all worth it.
“It was the first time I saw my parents completely blown away,” she said. “All my dad said was, ‘Ya la hiciste,’ which translates to, ‘You did it. You made it!’ I’m incredibly blessed, and I thank Preuss, my parents, brothers, grandmother, my youth group and everyone who has helped me.”
The Gates Millennium Scholarship selects 1,000 students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at the college or university of their choice. Candidates for the scholarship must have at least a 3.3 GPA, meet Federal Pell Grant criteria, and plan to study computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics or public health and the sciences in their higher education.
Now that money is no longer a worry, Karina is able to focus solely on the positives that college life will bring. In addition to being on her own and meeting new people, she’s looking forward to experiencing Duke basketball games. She is planning on studying human biology and creative writing, and has high hopes for what the future will bring.
“In the future, I hope to be a published author,” she said. “I also want to travel. … I just want to be happy.”