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PSEO Student Selected as Gates Millennium Scholar

Ashley Yang, Gates Millennium Scholar

Ashley Yang, a Post-Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) student at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and a senior at South High School, has been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS) and now becomes part of their exclusive Class of 2016. Ashley was selected from a pool of more than 53,000 applicants, and is among the final cohort of Gates Millennium Scholars.

The GMS program, established in 1999, is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the goal to help remove the financial barriers for students who are high-performing, but come from family backgrounds experiencing limited income. The GMS program awards 1,000 scholarships each year to outstanding low-income African America, American Indian/Alaska Native, Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students to help provide them the opportunity to complete an undergraduate college degree in any discipline they choose. Ashley was nominated for the award by Rose Lindsay, communications and marketing manager, at the City of Minneapolis department of Community Planning and Economic Development.

Ashley first heard about the Gates scholarship in the sixth grade, seven years ago, when a group of high school students were speaking about it at her elementary school. After hearing about the scholarship, Ashley’s dream was to excel in academics, participate in sports and extracurricular activities, volunteer in her community and find her true passion in order to become a great candidate for colleges and the Gates Millennium Scholarship program. “It has always been my dream to receive the Gates scholarship,” Ashley says. “This is my ticket out of poverty.”

“I knew that grades weren’t enough. Colleges and scholarship committees are looking for well-rounded people who will give back to their community.” After her sophomore year at South High School, Ashley decided to leave South High School to challenge herself at MCTC as a PSEO student. Starting at 15-years-old, Ashley was taking rigorous courses at MCTC as a full-time student. After two full years of college, Ashley is now a senior at South High School and graduating student at MCTC. In fact, Ashley will be awarded her Associates in Arts degree in Liberal Arts a week before she receives her high school diploma from South High School. As a 17-year-old, Ashley is one of the youngest graduates at both MCTC and South High School.

The GMS program is known for its recipients’ high graduation rates across the nation’s top institutions: a six-year graduation rate in excess of 90 percent, more than 50 percent higher than the national graduation rate for students of color and comparable to the success rate of students from much more prosperous families. GMS provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support as well as financial support.

“Being selected as a recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship and earning your Associate of Arts degree before receiving your high school diploma is a great achievement,” said Avelino Mills-Novoa, Ph.D., interim president of MCTC. “Ashley is a testament to the drive and perseverance of MCTC students. She is indeed one of our best and brightest.”

Now a Gates scholar and an MCTC and South High School graduate, Ashley will begin her next adventure as a student at Augsburg College this fall. She plans to pursue undergraduate degrees in International Business and International Relations with a minor in communications. As part of her program, Ashley plans to study abroad in Thailand in the spring of 2017. Ashley also intends to obtain a Master’s in Business Administration and eventually her Ph.D. In the future, Ashley hopes to help continue the Gates Millennium Scholarship and start her own foundation for local students who are struggling to pay for college.

Photo credit: MCTC Photography student, BobbiLe Marie N'Diayewho