Nguyen, Martinez Named Gates Millennium Scholars

Friday, May 9, 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.



Tennessee Board Of Regents Appoints 4 Executives To Help Lead Unified Community And Technical College System

A Tennessee Board of Regents committee on Thursday approved four administrative appointments recommended by Chancellor Flora Tydings as part of a strategic reorganization of the TBR system office to reflect its streamlined mission as a unified community and technical college system under the state’s FOCUS Act. The chancellor outlined the reorganization in a special ... (click for more)

Tennessee Highway Safety Office, Partners Advocate For Teen Safety During Prom, Graduation

Prom and graduation celebrations should be enjoyable, safe experiences for everyone. The Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) is partnering with the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and AAA – The Auto Club Group to promote teen driver safety during prom and graduation season. According ... (click for more)

County School Teachers To Get 3% Raise Under Balanced County School Budget

Hamilton County Schools teachers are slated to get three percent pay increases under the balanced budget approved by the School Board on Thursday afternoon. That comes on top of a two percent hike last year. Lee McDade, assistant superintendent, said a large influx of cash came from the state, and Governor Bill Haslam outlined that it was to raise the pay level for teachers. ... (click for more)

Law Enforcement Shuts Down Convenience Store Near College Hill Courts As Public Nuisance

Law enforcement on Thursday took steps to shut down a convenience store near the College Hill Courts as a public nuisance. The action was taken after District Attorney Neal Pinkston filed a petition with Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz about the Westside Shop. The store is operated by Salma Ambo, and the real property is owned by AAA Investment Properties LLC. The petition ... (click for more)

White Coat Syndrome And The Medical System - And Response (2)

Today I wish to share what I am feeling as a patient in our medical system. I am too old to put on airs at this point, and this is too pervasive of a problem for me to contain.   As I enter my AARP years, I am faced with so many medical encounters that evoke all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. I dread physician’s appointments riddled with government regulatory hypocrisy, ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: County Commissioners Not Getting Bang For Their School Bucks

The Hamilton County School Board passed a balanced budget to present to the County Commission at a Special Called Meeting on Thursday night. They also attached a prioritized list of $24.5 million in critical needs for the County Commission to consider that will never see the light of day. The long and short of it is easy to see -- the County Commissioners have had enough. It ... (click for more)