Gates Millennium Scholarship selectee Anthony Perry. (Photo courtesy of St. Francis High School.)

Anthony Perry and Susana Almaguer Martinez are Louisville high school seniors.

Both students have a 4.0 grade point average.

Martinez arrived in the United States from Cuba just two years ago; now she’s a member of the National Honors Society and winner of the Migrant Network Coalition Achieving Migrant Scholarship. Martinez attends Seneca High.

Perry attends St. Francis School downtown. He’s the YMCA of Greater Louisville’s Black Achievers’ Youth Achiever of the Year.

And thanks to the Gates Millenium Scholarship project, they’re both headed off to the college of their choice, tuition free.

The Gates Millennium Scholar Project covers all “unmet need and self-help aid” for 1,000 outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students for the school of their choice for the duration of their programs.

Every year.

The project was funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation back in 1999. This year there were more than 54,000 applications to the scholarship, making this the most competitive year to date.

The application itself is grueling.  The form is 21 pages long. Students must have a 3.3 GPA just to apply.

“I worked on a Gates application with a scholar for a month,” says Kyle Ware, Director of Tourism Honors Academy, an extracurricular honors program in Louisville. “I have no doubt that the schools played a role in this success. And Seneca is one of those schools battling back.”

Susana Almaguer Martinez. Photo courtesy of JCPS

Michelle Dillard, Seneca High Principal says, “We’re very proud of Susana. Its shows that you can do great things at Seneca High.”

Martinez has spent a lot of her high school career volunteering as a tutor, interpreter and daycare worker. She says, “This scholarship is a challenge to be a better person and student each day. I’ll continue to work hard to demonstrate the exceptional capability of youth.”

In Perry’s case, his scholarship will pay for his education at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most competitive schools in the country. (It’s No. 8 on the USNews and World Report’s National College Rankings 2013.)

Back in March, Perry presented a conference at the Muhammad Ali Center titled, “A 360 View of the School-to-Prison Pipeline.” He’s on the leadership team of the ACLU Youth Rights Conference and is a member of the Muhammad Ali Center Council for Students.

Not only does the Gates Millennium Scholarship fund scholars’ education, it provides them with enrichment and support.  Conferences, internships, social networking opportunities, resources, mentors, and fellowships are just a few of the benefits of being selected a GMS Scholar.

Continuing Gates Scholars may also request further funding for graduate degree programs in: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. 

Soifra Rucker, Director of Advancement at St. Francis says, “[Perry] will be studying business at the Wharton School of Business.  Perhaps he’ll boomerang back to the ‘Ville and be in Insider Louisville again.”

Both students give a lot of credit to their schools.

Martinez says, “I wholeheartedly want to thank my teachers who were with me the whole time supporting me when I needed it most. I also thank the staff at my school, such as the counselor, secretaries etc. I’m grateful to those people who made possible my stay in the United States.”

She’s headed off to the University of South Florida in the fall.

Perry says, “I am incredibly grateful for and humbled by the honor of being named a Gates Millennium Scholar.  I am also thankful for all the support I’ve received from my family and from St. Francis!”


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