Nguyen, Martinez Named Gates Millennium Scholars

Friday, May 09, 2014
Dalton High seniors Thao Nguyen and Suzie Martinez have been named Gates Millennium Scholars—a scholarship that pays for everything from tuition, books, living expenses, and even gas costs.
Dalton High seniors Thao Nguyen and Suzie Martinez have been named Gates Millennium Scholars—a scholarship that pays for everything from tuition, books, living expenses, and even gas costs.

Dalton High seniors Thao Nguyen and Suzie Martinez have been named Gates Millennium Scholars—a scholarship that pays for everything from tuition, books, living expenses, and even gas costs. Ms. Nguyen and Ms. Martinez are the 12th and 13th students from Dalton High to receive the scholarships since 2008.

To apply for the scholarship, students must be going into college, have a 3.3 high school GPA, demonstrate leadership abilities, and be of a minority race. 

The deadline to apply was in January, and a lot of writing was required with the application—both Ms. Nguyen and Ms. Martinez had to turn in eight essays.

All had to be less than 1,000 words. Two were recommendation, and others described things such as their strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles. 

For obstacles, the two 18-year-olds talked about bumps in the road with their families. 

“My parents don’t understand my extracurricular activities, and they don’t understand why I’m never home,” said Ms. Martinez. 

“I’m from a single mom family. We have a low financial standing, and my mom has to take care of my grandparents,” Ms. Nguyen said.

With strengths, Ms. Martinez said social studies (the senior has previously been nominated in Governor’s Honors in the subject), and Ms. Nguyen said math and history.

“It’s second nature,” Ms. Nguyen said of math.

In March, they both found out they were finalists. 

“There was still another round, so I was skeptical,” said Ms. Nguyen.

“I went back and read my essays and questioned why they chose me,” said Ms. Martinez. “Not that I’m unqualified, I was just questioning. I couldn’t believe it.”

With this round, finalists had to send in more documents including proof of college admittance, transcripts and Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

As time to find out the scholars drew near, Ms. Martinez and Ms. Nguyen heard others were already getting their acceptance packages, and they were not.

“I saw others saying they got theirs,” Ms. Martinez said.

When they finally heard in April that they were officially scholars, they couldn’t believe they had done it. 

Ms. Martinez realized when she did finally get her package, the package was big one, which usually means good news.

She was right. 

 “I screamed, ‘I got it, I got it!’” Ms. Martinez said.

“I couldn’t breathe for 20 minutes, and I was hyperventilating” Ms. Nguyen said.

Ms. Martinez and Ms. Nguyen are two of the 1,000 who were named scholars—5,200 first applied, 2,000 were finalists, and then the final 1,000 were chosen.

Both of the girls say winning the Gate Millennium Scholarship takes a huge weight from their shoulders. 

“It’s a relief,” said Ms. Nguyen. “I don’t have the money to go to college.”

“It’s a huge burden off of my parents,” said Ms. Martinez.

To those that gave the scholarship, Ms. Nguyen said: “Thank you for believing in us and giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream.”

Ms. Martinez added, “Thank you for taking a chance on us. I wish others with large incomes would do something like this.”

Ms. Martinez will head off to Berry College in the fall and major in animal science, and Ms. Nguyen will attend the University of Georgia to be a pre-med student.



Normal Park 6th Grade Students Learn About 3D Printing

Normal Park 6th grade students were captivated by Alex Cruikshank as he facilitated a brief demonstration and Q&A session on additive manufacturing through 3D printing on Wednesday. A programmer by trade, Cruikshank has quickly developed a passion and strong knowledge base about 3D printing. In the demonstration, he showed Normal Park students a variety of examples of 3D printed ... (click for more)

Local Colleges Receive National Accolades

Two Chattanooga-area colleges are receiving national recognition for excellence. Covenant College and Bryan College were ranked by U.S. News & World Reports among the top 25 Southern colleges.   In addition, Bryan College ranked as the #7 best value among all Southern colleges. U.S. News calculated value based on cost of attendance for students and quality of the education ... (click for more)

Teen, 17, Charged With Aggravated Rape In Attack On 69-Year-Old North Chattanooga Runner

A 17-year-old has been charged with aggravated rape in connection with an attack on a 69-year-old runner in North Chattanooga on Monday morning. The teen was identified by Juvenile Court officials as Diontae Smartt. Authorities said he has given a confession. Smartt has a detention hearing Thursday at 12:30. The incident happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. ... (click for more)

Berke Implements New Pay Plan For Chattanooga Fire Department

Mayor Andy Berke joined the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and leadership of the Chattanooga Fire Department to unveil the department’s new pay plan Wednesday afternoon. At a press conference at Fire Hall #1 on Main Street, Mayor Berke and IAFF Local 820 President Jack Thompson signed a memorandum of understanding which sets forth regular raises for fire ... (click for more)

Leaders Lead On Amendment 1

This week the Hamilton County Commission was faced with what I believe may be one of the most important votes they have cast during their tenure.  Granted, the vote was over a "mere" Resolution that resulted in no overt action or new law in our county.  But there are times when simply speaking Truth and taking a stand on a foundational Principle is paramount and as such ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My October Garden

Hark! It is the first day of October and, as I make my monthly stroll through the garden, I find a growing numbers of leaves and acorns. Autumn leaves are beautiful while acorns are nuts, thus you will get the idea as we make our monthly awards: A PRETTY LEAF to Phil Hughes after the Minnesota Twins pitcher came within one inning of earning a $500,000 bonus this season. The deal ... (click for more)