by Pearlie M. Bowser
For more than a decade, the Bill Gates Millennial Scholars program (GMS) has helped to fund the college dreams of over 16,000 students from throughout the country. Among the scholarship recipients are two Albany State University students.
Ocquianna Suggs is a freshman from Atlanta majoring in forensic science. Graduating senior Clarence Washington from Offerman, Ga. has a double major in criminal justice and middle grades education.
“The application process was rigorous,” said Washington. “The year I applied, there were around 20 thousand people that applied. I was the only one from my high school to receive the scholarship. I consider it a blessing.”
Each year, the United Negro College Fund awards 1,000 minority students with a full scholarship provided through the GMS program. Initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the scholarship is available to selected students and pays for college expenses, including tuition from the undergraduate to doctoral levels.
In the scholarship essay, Suggs wrote about community involvement through her church, New Life International Family Church, where she served food to the homeless and the aging population.
Gates Millennial Scholars can use the scholarship to attend the college or university of their choice. Suggs chose ASU because it is only one of a few historically black institutions with a program accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Science. Washington, who was awarded the scholarship as a high school senior said ASU was his “first choice” after touring the campus and observing the camaraderie among students, faculty and staff.
After Saturday’s commencement, the Gates scholar will attend graduate school at the University of West Georgia in January and plans to major in school counseling.
The deadline to submit the GMS application is approaching. Submit all documents by Jan. 14.