April 10, 2006

Sacramento State students awarded Gates scholarships

An eclectic group of Sacramento State students were recently awarded the nationally recognized Gates Millennium Scholarship sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The eight Sacramento State students, who come from diverse backgrounds, were honored for excellence in both academics and community participation.

For example, Pamela Ames, an 18-year-old Native American from the Yurok tribe, received the Gates scholarship for maintaining a GPA of 4.14 in high school while being the student body treasurer, playing three sports, taking honors classes and working part time.

Ames is majoring in civil engineering and said she wants to use her degree to give back to her community, the Hoopa Valley Reservation in Humboldt County.

“I live in a rural area where there’s a lot of old buildings. I want to go back and help rebuild the area,” Ames said.

Kay Saechao, another Gates winner, is a 21-year-old economics student raised in Redding and is part of the Mien community. Her parents fled Laos, moved to Thailand as refugees in the 1980s and finally found a place to call home here in the United States. Saechao said she was nominated by one of her teachers in high school for her participation in the Asian American Club, Key Club and in the Mien community.

“Since (the Mien population) just came to the U.S. in the 1980s, we are still trying to get an education and adjusted to the American culture,” she said.

Saechao is also interested in education and said she would like to use the opportunity to earn a graduate degree in education through the Gates program.

The program’s goal is to recognize the diversity in American society and the need to increase access to higher education to reflect the nation’s multicultural society. Students are given a scholarship for the undergraduate degree of their choice and have the opportunity to receive funding for graduate programs in academic disciplines where their racial and ethnic groups are under represented.

The other award winners for 2005-06 are Hector Fernandez, Felicitas Marquez, Yen Nguyen, Lorena Oliva, Jose Paniagua and Miguel Ramirez.

The Gates program also offers graduate scholarships in engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and science. Since 1999, more than 9,000 students have been awarded the scholarships.

For more information on the Gates Millennium Scholars Program visit www.gmsp.org and for media assistance contact the Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.

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