Three College of Charleston freshmen are among 1,000 students nationwide who have been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship. The application process included writing eight essays each, in which the students told stories of being bullied, managing anxiety and depression, and discovering what they love to do. “To have three Gates Millennium Scholars enter the College in one year really speaks to the quality of our applicants and to the education we can provide,” Provost George Hynd says. “They had the opportunity to go to the school of their choice, and we’re honored they chose the College of Charleston.”
The Gates Millennium Scholarship is given to outstanding minority students each year by the United Negro College Fund and is made possible by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The award is good through graduation, and recipients may request funding for a graduate degree program in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.
Joseph Quisol, a scholarship recipient from Charlotte, N.C., says writing the essays helped him determine the subjects he likes best and led to his decision to double major in international studies and political science. Quisol is also in the Honors College and a member of the inaugural class for the International Scholars Program. He is considering a graduate program in public health and hopes to one day work for the U.S. Department of State.
“When I was in high school my parents had to sacrifice paying bills so I could take International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement exams, and I didn’t want them to sacrifice more for college” Quisol says. He chose the College of Charleston because when he visited the campus, he liked the tight-knit atmosphere. “The faculty seemed really invested in the undergraduates.”
“My tutor had told me to consider the College of Charleston, but I didn’t think it was financially possible,” says Kathy Longmire, a marine biology major from Vienna, Va. “I come from one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but my mom was unemployed and I was looking at the possibility of going to a community college. When I found out I got the scholarship, I was in shock for a couple of weeks.”
In one essay, Longmire wrote about being diagnosed with anxiety and depression disorder when she was a junior in high school. “I’ve been able to use my experience of being at rock bottom and lifting myself out of that to help others.”
Latisha Robinson, also a marine biology major from Columbia, S.C., came to the College of Charleston along with her twin sister, Davisha. Robinson says without the scholarship, she would have to work and take out loans to ease her family’s burden of putting two daughters through college at the same time.
Robinson likes the College of Charleston because it is close to the coast—and to home—but says she has gained more confidence in herself over the years. In one of her essays, she recalled being bullied in elementary school. “As I got older, I learned to open up to people and make new friends.” Winning the scholarship has taught her not to let obstacles get in the way of her goals. “Don’t give up,” she says.
To learn more about the Gates Millennium Scholars program visit http://www.gmsp.org/.