GRCC TRiO Upward Bound students Darrartu Ali and Saul Valle have won one of the most prestigious academic scholarships offered to minority students – the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. The seniors were just two of over 20,500 applicants and only 1,000 winners selected across the United States. As a reward, Ali and Valle will receive funding to any U.S. accredited college or university of their choice, including tuition, room and board, food, books, etc. for the next 8 years of their higher educational career. As both students aspire to achieve careers in the medical field, they hope to pursue education through their Ph.D., which will be entirely paid for by the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, saving the students’ families over $200,000.
All eligible seniors of the GRCC TRiO Upward Bound Program are encouraged to apply if they meet the criteria. Students must be of minority decent and hold a minimum 3.3 cumulative GPA, with various other requirements. While the application is lengthy, students are assessed on their high school course grades, written essays, as well as how they have shown leadership through extracurricular and service activities within their schools and communities. The GRCC TRiO UB program also provides recommendations for the scholarships, speaking to the academic, social, and leadership capabilities of any UB student who applies to the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.
In the fall, both Ali and Valle plan to attend the University of Michigan. They had each already earned the Michigan Tradition Scholarship, providing them with a $40,000 scholarship to the U of M. For both students, winning the Gates Millennium Scholars Program has been the highlight of their academic career. Says Valle “I wanted to win this award to prove to myself that I really am capable. Winning this scholarship means so much to me. I am so appreciative of everything Upward Bound has done to help me get where I am.” Ali also states that she is “so excited and honored to have won this scholarship! I can’t wait to attend the University of Michigan!”
These high achieving students have accomplished outstanding feats during their high school careers. Ali currently holds a 3.6 GPA, is active in Upward Bound and Grand Rapids Pre-College Engineering Program (GRAPCEP), as well as National Honor Society and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). She also completed a summer internship with the Van Andel Institute, which helped spark her interest in medicine. Ali has also qualified for the Wade McCree Scholarship Program which covers full tuition at GVSU. Valle has maintained a 3.98 cumulative GPA during his high school career and is ranked 2nd in his senior class. He is also an active member of the Upward Bound Program, GRAPCEP, and the Rotary Club. Valle also completed a summer internship with the Van Andel Institute, helping him choose a career in the field of medicine. In addition to the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and the Michigan Tradition Scholarship, Valle earned the Wade McCree Scholarship through GVSU.