Oroville, CA--Three College Connection students - Downy Her, Richard Vang and Jenett Yang - have been selected as 2009 "Gates Millennium Scholars."
The three Oroville students chose to spend their final high school year at Butte College in the College Connection Program and are among 1,000 high school seniors nationwide selected for the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholars--a scholarship program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As Millennium Scholar recipients, all three students, who maintain a 4.0 or higher grade point average, will have all of their education expenses covered throughout their collegiate career, if they continue to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
Vang is the fourth member of his family to be selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar; his three sisters, two of whom were also College Connection students, preceded him.
"I'm not sure I would call it a family tradition but getting this scholarship is pretty exciting and makes a big difference," said Vang, 18, who will be attending California State University, Chico in the fall to begin his work toward a bachelor's degree in math or science. "I'm not real sure which yet," he said.
Her, 18, and Yang, 17, have both been accepted at University of California, Davis. Her plans to study biological sciences in preparation for becoming a pediatrician. Yang, whose sister was also a College Connection student and Millennium Scholar, will study international relations with her sights set on becoming an AIDS activist in Africa.
"I had been working and planned to keep working to pay for school until I received the Gates scholarship. Now I don't have to. I am so blessed and feel so thankful that burden and stress are off my shoulders," said Her.
In addition to maintaining high grade point averages, all three students are active in community service. Yang helped start a community organization for Hmong Youth; Her is active in community service projects through her church; and Vang mentors youth. All three participated in the Butte College Make A Difference Day project which received national recognition as one of the top 10 volunteer projects in the U.S.
The students all agreed that the year they spent in College Connection prepared them for the Millennium scholarship application - which required eight essays - and for college itself.
"I feel like College Connection gave me a head start on college and on life. It's an awesome program," said Vang.
Since 2004, six Butte College Connection students have received the Gates Millennium scholarship.