Chapel Hill Graduate Receives Gates Millennium Scholarship
By JARAH WRIGHT
At the age of 7, Priscilla Pichon discovered her dream school.
“We were on our way to San Antonio. Priscilla pointed out the window and said ‘What is that?' I asked her which one she was talking about. I looked and it was Baylor University,” Priscilla's mother Maria Pichon said. “Priscilla said ‘Mama. On the way back I want to stop and take a picture.' So we took a picture of her at Baylor when she was 7 years old.”
Eleven years later, Priscilla is preparing to attend Baylor University after becoming the only student in East Texas to be awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship.
The Chapel Hill High School graduate is one of 1,000 students nationwide to receive the award, which funds the recipient's undergraduate education and, depending upon what program they choose, graduate school as well.
The scholarship program, established in 1999, is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the United Negro College Fund.
The UNCF partners with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to provide 1,000 scholarships annually to minority students.
These students must demonstrate financial need, community leadership and academic excellence, according to the program's website.
More than 15,000 students have received the scholarship since its inception, according to the website.
In addition to the financial award, recipients also participate in leadership development programs.
Priscilla said she wasn't going to apply for the scholarship until she got a letter from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund encouraging her to apply.
After hearing she might have a chance at receiving it, she began the application process.
“It was probably the longest application process I've ever had to do,” Priscilla said. “I had a huge sigh of relief when I submitted it.”
She said the hardest part was waiting three months to hear if she had been awarded the scholarship.
One day a package arrived that held the results.
“It was a big package and I thought big means good. It wasn't anything small,” Priscilla said. “I opened it and there was a letter on top that said, ‘Congratulations.' I was crying happy tears.”
However, her mom said she was a nervous.
“She had gotten a letter saying that she hadn't gotten a scholarship before,” said Mrs. Pichon. “That day she was at the door almost speechless. She said ‘mama' over and over. I said ‘What is it?' She told me and we both fell together crying. It really was amazing.”
Priscilla will be majoring in biology and wants to become a physician's assistant.