August 4, 2003
Sixteen Gates Achiever Scholars Choose Whitworth College
When Delia Orosco's counselor at Henry Foss High School told her about the Washington State Achievers Program, her dream of being the first person in her family to attend college started to become a reality. She won the scholarship and plans to attend Whitworth College in the fall, an opportunity she wouldn't have without the financial help offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation, in collaboration with the Washington Education Foundation, established the Washington State Achievers Program in 2001. The $100-million scholarship program was founded to help low-income students in Washington state gain access to higher education.
In 2001, five Gates Scholars chose to attend Whitworth, followed by four in 2002. This year, 16 of the 104 Gates Scholars enrolling at institutions in Washington will attend Whitworth. Gordon Jackson, Whitworth's associate dean for academic affairs, says these scholars may be choosing Whitworth because of its strong academics and student support.
Whitworth has a nationally recognized freshman advising program that has contributed to record-high retention and graduate rates and to the college's #5 ranking among master's-level universities in the West in U.S. News & World Report's 2003 Best Colleges Guide.
"We're thrilled that this third group of Gates Achiever Scholars is so large," Jackson says. "It's difficult to say exactly what's behind this jump, but I think part of the explanation is that students in the feeder high schools are learning more about Whitworth and the programs and support we provide entering freshmen."
In addition to Orosco, the 15 other Gates Scholars who will attend Whitworth are Daniel Bacon, Michael Chansvang, Crystal Viken, and Tara Yi, from Lincoln High School, in Tacoma; Tucker Freeman and Joseph Johnson, from Tonasket High School, in Tonasket; Arthur Hanenburg, from West Valley High School, in Spokane, Emily Johnson and Crystal Lopez, from Stevenson High School, in Stevenson; Meagan Sterkel and Jeanette Trexier, from Mariner High School, in Everett; Carolina Majuarrez and April Stadler, from A.C. Davis High School, in Yakima; Sha'nay McQuirter, from Mt. Tahoma High School, in Tacoma; and Lauren Thompson, from Henry Foss High School, in Tacoma.
The rigorous application process for the Gates Scholarship includes eight essay questions, two letters of recommendation, an interactive task-completion session, and participation in a leadership camp. Upon learning that she had won the scholarship, Orosco says she saw the doors open before her eyes.
"With the help of the Gates Foundation, I'll be able to further my education," Orosco says. "I know I'm going to have an opportunity that some may never have. I feel extremely blessed."
Last summer, the Washington Education Foundation asked the Gates Scholars to provide a name for the high-achievers' summer-leadership program at Washington State University. Orosco's submission, A.C.E., or Achievers College Experience, won the contest because it most clearly reflected the mission of the program: to give the scholars a taste of what is in store following high school and provide them with the tools they will need for college success.
Orosco was active in high school in the hope that she could some day earn a scholarship for college. She was the Henry Foss High School Daffodil Princess for Tacoma's Daffodil Festival and her activities included the Ignite mentoring program, varsity softball, Air Force Junior ROTC, National Honor Society and First Nations Club. Orosco plans to major in political science and minor in economics at Whitworth and wants to attend law school. She says she chose Whitworth because the moment she stepped on the campus, she felt at home among the faculty and students.
"I am very excited about this new beginning at Whitworth," Orosco says. "I know it will be challenging but I am ready to take on those challenges head-on."
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.
Gordon Jackson, associate dean for academic affairs and academic liaison with the Washington Education Foundation, Whitworth College, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 777-4303.
Pamila Gant, college relations officer, Washington Education Foundation, (425) 416-2008, email@example.com.
Marianne Hansen, admissions director, Whitworth College, firstname.lastname@example.org, (509) 777-4347.
Delia Orosco, Gates Achiever Scholar, email@example.com.
Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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