Four Phoenix Union High School District students from four different schools have been named Gates Millennium Scholars, earning the prestigious scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates
The 2015 PUHSD Gates Millennium Scholars are Isis Comma, Camelback; Julio Melchor, Trevor Browne; Fernando Resendez, Metro Tech and Esther Avila Rodriguez, Carl Hayden.
Fifty-seven Gates Scholars were named in Arizona this year, but only six from Phoenix, including Phoenix Union’s four.
The scholarships, which can be applied toward undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees, are made possible by a $1.6 billion grant established by the Gates in 1999. Each year, 1,000 students are awarded the scholarship.
Scholarship recipients are assessed in the areas of academic achievement, community service and leadership. The value of the scholarship, according to the Gates Foundation’s average expenditure per student, is $250,000. The amount is determined by unmet need based on the financial aid package that is provided by the student’s college or university. It can help pay the cost of tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. The scholarship is renewable and can continue for up to 10 years. Each year it enables 5,000 students to attend and graduate from 800 of the most selective private and public schools in the country.
The goal of the Gates Millennium Scholars program is to promote academic excellence and provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with financial need to reach their highest potential and increase representation of minorities in disciplines such as science, education, engineering, mathematics, public health and sciences. The District has had 34 Gates Millennium Scholars since 2007, including 20 in the last four years.
Meet the PUHSD Gates Millennium Scholars below:
Isis Comma not only is graduating in three years, but she has the distinction of being the first
graduate of the Camelback Montessori Preparatory High School program. She is at the top of her
Comma has a desire to travel, but much of that travel was by bus, one hour each way
from Laveen when she started at Camelback. Now, she is on her way to the University of Hawaii
to study business tourism management. She plans to send her mother to Hawaii for her dream 50th
Comma, a Camelback band member who taught herself to play saxophone, performed
at the gate as students arrived at school. She doubled up her English classes this year, and has
taken two years of Mandarin Chinese. She is still in a hurry, starting college in July.
Julio Melchor is the seventh Trevor Browne Gates Scholar since 2007.
Already a QuestBridge Scholar, a program that bridges the nation’s brightest, under-served youth with leading institutions of higher education, Melchor last month had been accepted for a full ride to 14 schools, and was on the waiting list for seven more, including Stanford, Columbia, MIT and Princeton. He has
narrowed down visits to Duke, Penn, Notre Dame, Brown and Cornell.
Julio is number one in the 2015 class of 606 students, and has a 4.733 weighted grade point average and a 3.933 unweighted GPA.
He has earned college credit from the ASU Bustoz Math-Science program, Grand Canyon University and Estrella Community College, and his interest in medicine was piqued as a volunteer at Hospice of the Valley. His dream is to attend the best university, major in medicine and become a family practice physician.
Fernando Resendez is number one in his class out of 358 students, with a 4.66 grade point average. He has been taking engineering classes at Metro Tech, and wants to become a doctor.
Among his school activities, he is the vice-president of the school’s weightlifting club. He is also a member of the National Honors Society, the Math club and the Engineering club.
He played basketball for Metro Tech last year, and he is active in his church and for a community organization called M.A.D. House, Making a Difference. He will be attending ASU as a pre-med major.
Esther Avila Rodriguez is only a junior and will be graduating a year early with the class of 2015. With a weighted grade point average of 4.75, she is number one in the junior class and number four in the senior class.
Esther has been a member of the Falcon Robotics team, serving this year as the project manager. Among the clubs she is involved in are Future Teachers Club,
Math Club, Youth Healing, Student Expedition program, Be a Leader, French Club and she participated in NBC’s Education Nation initiative here in Phoenix and in New York.
She also was in the school’s Drama program and played volleyball. Esther has clocked over 350 hours of community service, fundraising, tutoring and volunteering at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
She has been part of the ACE (Achieving a College Education) program with Maricopa Community Colleges, and
she was in the Ivy League project, encouraging minority students to attend top universities.
In fact, she is hoping to continue her education at either Brown or Pennsylvania. Rodriguez is anxious to get an early start in college, and
pursue her dream of becoming a teacher or a college professor in the STEM disciplines. Her counselor says “she
has Ph.D. written all over her. A true role model exemplifying education and service