By Cora Bledsoe
Cora Bledsoe was an intern last semester with the Quicken Loans Web Marketing team. She did such a great job, she is no longer an intern – she’s a full-time team member! Congratulations Cora on joining Quicken Loans and on a well-written post about the Gates Millenium Scholars program.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done a lot for a lot of people. In the health and education arenas especially, the foundation has funded many important initiatives the world over.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMSP), one of the foundations initiatives, funds college scholarships for low-income high school seniors. The scholarship is administered by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), in partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, and the Organization of Chinese Americans. As a recipient of this scholarship, I can speak firsthand to the difference it has made in my life.
I applied for the Gates Scholarship in my senior year of high school. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would receive it. At the time, I was applying to any scholarship that crossed my path, even if I was only barely qualified. My parents hadn’t built a college fund for me and I knew I didn’t want to have to pay loans after I graduated.
GMSP was generous enough to pay for all four (and a half) years of my undergraduate education after other grants and scholarships I had were exhausted. Now that I’m done with undergrad and I’m earning a Master’s degree, the scholarship is also funding my two years in this program. And the great thing is, if I choose to get a Ph.D., GMSP will be there to support me with four more years of funding.
Through the years, I’ve heard many of my peers complain of not being able to pay for upcoming semesters or not being able to enroll because of past due tuition bills. Fortunately GMSP has kept myself and other Gates Scholars from having to experience those situations. I know that after graduation I won’t have that great burden of having to repay student loans that so many students have.
The great thing about GMSP is that it is specifically designed to aid low-income students, who may not be able to attend college otherwise. This directly helps to lessen the achievement gap between low-income minority students and other middle and upper class students.
Earlier this year, I paid a visit to my old school, Renaissance High School in Detroit. I went to encourage the students there to apply for the scholarship and to tell them about how it has benefited me. Since my trip, at least three students have applied.
While I know it’s not possible for every student to be Gates Scholar, I am truly appreciative of everything GMSP has done for me and continues do for others, both in education and other areas. It’s clear that the Gates Foundation makes a big difference in many people’s lives.