A dozen DeKalb graduates are going to college this fall on full-ride 2013 Gates Millennium Scholarships.
The seniors from nine high schools are among 87 metro Atlanta students named April 26 by the United Negro College Fund, which manages the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.
Eight of the 12 students are from South DeKalb high schools. Arabia Mountain High has three recipients, the highest number of any DeKalb school. The group includes two valedictorians and two salutatorians.
The South DeKalb scholars are Ayomide Charles Akin-David, Karri Thomas, and Morgan McCall from Arabia Mountain High; Lila Siwakoti, Clarkston High; Terrence Dixon, Ronald E. McNair High; Ashley Wrushen, Martin Luther King Jr. High; Kaven Bell, Miller Grove High; and Natasha Monroe, Redan High.
Ayomide Akin-David is Arabia Mountain’s valedictorian and his classmate Morgan McCall is one of the school’s three salutatorians. Jonothan Smith is the MLK Jr. High valedictorian, and Terrence Dixon is the salutatorian at McNair High School.
Last year, 15 DeKalb students got Gates Scholarships. The Georgia scholars are among 1,000 named this year from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.
This year, another DeKalb County student, DuMarkus Davis, who attends the online American High School based in Hollywood, Fla., also won a Gates Scholarship. Even though he lives in Decatur, he is counted among Florida’s award recipients.
The good-through-graduation Gates Scholarships, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each scholar, can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited college or university of the recipient’s choice.
Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the UNCF, says the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is not only an investment in the futures of these students, but also in the country’s economic and social strength and competitiveness.
“Today more than ever it is important that our young people get the education they need, and that we need them to have in order to remain competitive in the 21st century,” he said.
“For the 20,000 young men and women who will attend college as Gates Millennium Scholars, the financial support, leadership training, mentoring, and academic and social support they receive will enable them to become college graduates and our next generation of leaders.”
Since its inception in 1999 with a $1.6 billion endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the scholarship program has funded 20,000 high-performing, low-income students to attend 800 private and public schools – among them, Ivy League colleges and flagship state universities across the country.
Arabia Mountain’s Morgan McCall, who will attend the University of Virginia and major in economics and sociology, says she is aiming for a career in consulting for a financial institution, teaching at the university level, or in market analysis.
“I’m still very excited and surprised,” said Morgan, who is one of her school’s three 2013 salutatorians.
“I’m especially thrilled for my mom who helped me through the very long, very complicated application process. I’m glad she gets to see all her love, guidance and support pay off.”
Classmate Ayomide, who goes by his middle name, Charles, is headed to Stanford University to major in computer engineering.
“I want to learn to use codes effectively and write my own software so that I can help bring electricity and other utilities to underserved areas here and in developing countries around the world,” he said.
Terrence Dixon of McNair High says he will double-major in political science and business at Howard University.
“Without the Gates Scholarship, I would have had to stay in Georgia,” he said.
Redan High’s Natasha Monroe said she had no particular expectations after going through the long, complex application process for the Millennium Scholarship so she was truly surprised when she got the award letter.
“The wonderful reality sank in,” she said. “It was a stress reliever. The biggest thing about college is that a lot of people are going to come out in debt, but I won’t have that issue.”
Natasha, who is a lifelong animal lover, says she will major in veterinary medicine at Tuskegee University.
Seventeen-year-old DuMarkus, the online high school graduate, is an aspiring classical concert solo violinist. He attended Chamblee Charter High until the 10th grade and completed his 11th and 12th grades at the online American High School.
He will attend Kennesaw State University’s School of Music in the fall.
“It’s just such a relief to know that we have a way of paying for college,” he said. “That removes a lot of pressure.”
Eighty-six percent of the students in the Gates Scholarship Program graduate, 38 percent higher than the national graduation rates for all students. The UNCF says this is comparable to the graduation rates for students from high-income families.