Angelica Vasquez, a senior from South Bend and at the end of her high school journey, has just received the Gates Millennium Scholarship. The scholarship only goes to 1000 recipients a year nationally, and covers up to $215,000 of expenses that other scholarships aren't already paying for. The application process is more than rigorous and to be eligible, one must meet a multitude of criteria.
A student must be African American, American Indian, Asian and Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American. A student must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 on an unweighted 4.0 scale, or have earned a GED. Lastly the student must have submitted all of the three required forms, the student's application, an evaluation of the student's academic record, and an evaluation of the student's community service and leadership activities before they are even eligible.
"I entered the application process in December, even though it opened previously in August, and was ending in January. I had some time to get it done," said Vasquez, "when I went to go open it (the on-line application), it told me to come back on January 1."
Although the applications were there when Vasquez checked back on January 1, she only had until January 15 to complete the application. Despite the complication, Vasquez was able to make the deadline within a day of it's closing.
"They even ended up extending the deadline by a few hours anyway."
The application requires eight essays. Vasquez also needed a "Nominator", as well as a "Recommender". The Nominator writes an evaluation of the student's academic record, and the Recommender writes an evaluation of the student's community service and leadership oriented activities. The eight essays that Vasquez wrote focused on different aspects of her life, such as her goals, strengths, hardships and obstacles in life that she has encountered.
"Mrs. Amy Nelson, a school guidance councilor was my Nominator, she wrote a lot, and helped me do a lot of research on the scholarship itself," said Vasquez. "Mr. Joel Bale, her math and science teacher was the Recommender, and wrote a lot having to do with things like my community service, and Kayla Camenzind, (Mentoring and Youth Development Specialist), was a big help as well, as she helped me with the actual writing of the essays."
Vasquez was one of 1000 recipients for 2015, and the scholarship covers full tuition, books, living expenses, and transportation for any university.
"One of the biggest obstacles for getting this scholarship has been the fact that I wasn't able to access the application form until January," said Vasquez.
Vasquez has been accepted at the University of Washington, where she will study with their medical program, her goal is to become a surgeon.