This nameless person told me that I should definitely share about the experience of being a Gates Millennium Scholar. In April of 2008, I was selected as one of the 1,000 high school seniors for this award. I remember when I found out that I was a recipient, I immediately fell to the floor and began to thank God! There were tears flowing from excitement. Of a pool of more than 13,000 applicants, I realized then, hey I am intelligent (there were times I used to doubt myself, especially in high school due to the amount of academic competitiveness that occurred between students).
In 2011, I remember getting an email about attending a conference entitled, The Institute on Teaching and Mentoring. This was held by the Southern Regional Education Board and Gates Millennium decided to select a group of scholars to attend. I went and I must say by attending this conference, I learned the power of networking and even more importantly, what kind of Doctorate degree I wanted to accomplish (Ed.D vs Ph.D.) I also learned then I will not be ABD (All But Dissertation). Although I feel like I have always knew what I wanted to do, I felt this helped me reorganized my thoughts for the better.
In 2012, I had the chance to attend the American Library Association's Annual Conference. It was because of this opportunity, I got to understand more about another field and how it related to my own. Last month, another opportunity came along, in which I got to travel to Indianapolis for the first time to attend the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education. These both were because of the scholarship program. Also, it wasn't bad that conference that I attended was no out of pocket expenses for me.
I am truly grateful for this scholarship, but when I think about it from six years ago to now, I think I am grateful for more reasons than before. Do not get me wrong, I appreciate the funding they provide to me still to continue to pursue my graduate degree. However, this scholarship is more than just that. This scholarship is about connections, networking, and providing an opportunity to enhance yourself and ultimately your community. It is about developing and honing in on leadership qualities. It is family of minority students who are doing something positive with themselves and go against the stereotypes that are portrayed on the news/media. This program is a way to truly see that there are people like you who can succeed in this world despite what others may say. Thinking about that statement before, "It's more than just a scholarship," I must say it is. "It's more than just a scholarship...IT'S A WAY OF LIFE!"
Note in my next piece, which will be written in a few days, will be more information about this scholarship and how to apply and tips to help out with the process! I hope this piece has helped you like it helped me.