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Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 in Need to Know | 0 comments

How I won my scholarship

How I won my scholarship

How did you win your scholarship?

Dear Kristy,

Before I won my scholarship, I applied for lots of other scholarships. I often say that I applied to more scholarships than I did to transfer schools. As a minority student, advisors often told me to look for scholarships that would relate to me or to my major. I honestly think that I searched: ‘scholarships for student who can’t pay for college at all’ or something like that and on a college website I found a list where the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program was mentioned.

A funny thing is that I originally thought that it was more of  a merit/recognition award rather than a full-ride scholarship. It was not until I already won the scholarship that I truly found out about the magnitude of this award. I learned about GMS around the end of November and the application was due in mid-January, so I had some time to look at the questions and read all the requirements.

I worked on some of the essays during the winter break and once I got back to school I asked for the letters of recommendation, a school nomination and a recommendation from a professor.


I had almost everything ready about three days before it was due except one essay, which wanted me to explain a difficult situation in my life. I knew what I wanted to write about but it was difficult for me to actually sit down and write it. It was not until the day before the due day, when I had some time between classes, that I sat down in the library’s second floor computer lab and finished the last essay in less than 30 min. I think it was one of the fastest essays I have written. Ms. Athena from the Writing Studio helped me revise it and it was finished.

I went over the application like 100 times. After a lot of double-checks and prayers, I submitted it that night. As soon as I submitted the application, I had a little nervous breakdown because I got two emails from GMS, one saying my app was completed and another saying that an item was missing. So I freaked out and called the help desk in California and a lady told me that she could see my completed application and that I could disregard the other email.

Some months later, on March 7, I got a memorandum saying I had been selected as a finalist. A month after that, I went to pick-up the mail before leaving for school and found a huge envelope from GMS and the first thing it said was Congratulations! I immediately knew that it was something good. Like I mentioned, I didn’t really know the magnitude of the award so I wasn’t celebrating just yet. It was not until I saw my advisors who were super happy and some of my professors telling me that it was a full-ride scholarship that I started to go crazy. I did more research and then I really lost it! I was skipping all over the place for like a month.

Follow Maria at #AskMaria


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