You literally have to be “one in a thousand” to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship.
For Lamar CISD, it was two in a thousand. Terry High School’s Shelby Rae Guel and Lamar Consolidated High School’s Chimsom Faith Orakwue are the District’s fourth and fifth Gates Scholars – the first for Terry, but the third consecutive year a Mustang has earned the honor.
Each year, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program selects only 1,000 talented students to receive a “good-through-graduation” scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also provides Gates Millennium Scholars with personal and professional development through a leadership programs along with academic support throughout their college careers.
According to the Gates Millennium Scholar website, more than 54,000 members of the high school class of 2013 applied for the scholarship.
Both students have medical school planned for their future. Orakwue plans to attend Columbia University in New York City, eventually becoming a pediatrician and returning to her native Nigeria to practice medicine.
Guel has her sights set on the University of Texas in Austin, with the long-range goal of being a psychiatrist and serving in the U.S. Army.
“I had Faith as both a 9th – and 10th-grader in Pre-AP English, and from the start Faith struck me as a bright, ambitious young girl,” said Lorry Sumers, one of the Lamar Consolidated teachers who nominated Orakwue. “I was happy to recommend her to the Gates Committee, and I focused my comments on my true belief that Faith embodies the ideal that we hope for when we dream of those who will guide our future.
“This is a girl who’s going places!” Sumers said.
Terry High teacher Louis Horton taught Guel’s pre-calculus and calculus. He recommended her for the Gates Scholarship because of her academic ability and work-ethic.
“Shelby is a great young woman who has nothing but positives in her future. She is able to quickly process mathematical concepts and apply them to any problem set presented to her,” Horton said. “Shelby is a resource to others in class who are struggling and freely offers assistance when needed and is quite an accomplished teacher.”
The road to being a Gates Scholar is long and difficult. Not only does a student have to have excellent grades, demonstrate leadership and have the recommendation of an educator, but a winning student will have written eight different essays by the end of the process.