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Cesar Chavez student named Gates Millennium Scholar


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  • Craig Pletenik/Phoenix Union High School District

Karen Mondaca is the third Gates Millennium Scholar in the past three years from Cesar Chavez.  She is ranked 15th out of 478 seniors in her class.

A natural leader, she spearheaded the Best Buddies program, supporting special needs students.  She initiated a Special Olympics Sports assembly, and recruited an ambassador from Best Buddies International for a campus-wide celebration.

Mondaca was selected to participate in a summer program at Princeton last summer, spending six weeks taking college-level courses, visiting Ivy League colleges and being mentored by university students and faculty.

As a member of the National Honors Society, she is a resource for scholarships for her colleagues, maintaining several scholarship sources for her classmates on her Facebook page.

Mondaca assisted the counseling department with the ASU Future Sun Devils Families workshops, informing and motivating 9th graders to begin preparing for college now.  She plans to attend Haverford College near Philadelphia in the fall.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship is unique in that it can be used for undergraduate and graduate degrees, room and board, fees and books, but because it supplements other funding sources, it is difficult to put a value on it.  

The Gates Foundation estimates that it is worth an average of $250,000 per student during his/her post-secondary career.   One-thousand students were selected from 52,000 applicants, nationwide.