May 19, 2013

Dalton’s Espitia named Gates Millennium Scholarship winner

By Lindsey Derrick Dalton Public Schools

— Dalton High School has had its fair share of Gates Millennium Scholars — 10 since 2008 — and this year is no different. Senior Gaby Espitia was recently named one of the 1,000 recipients of this prestigious award, making her the 11th recipient from the school.

To be considered for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, applicants must be going into college, have a 3.3 high school grade point average, demonstrate leadership abilities and be of a minority race.

The 18-year-old applied for the scholarship when it opened in October. Along with a generic application, she had to gather two recommendations and complete eight essays. Each essay had a maximum word count of 1,000 and covered areas from strengths (she excels in Latin) and weaknesses (math is her least favorite subject) to goals and community service.

In March, Espitia found out she was a finalist. For this round, she had to submit five documents such as transcripts, financial aid information and college acceptance letters.

From there, she nervously awaited the news.

As the weeks went by, Espitia took to Twitter to see if anyone was talking about the scholarship. Sure enough, recipients were tweeting about their acceptance packet. She learned that if you received the scholarship, you got a packet in the mail, but if you had been denied, you got an email.

“Every day I was waiting on the mail,” she said. “I wanted the mailman to bring me some good news!”

On April 18, that packet finally came.

“I couldn’t open it,” Espitia said of that moment when she saw what she had gotten.

There’s a good reason why Espitia was so overwhelmed at receiving this scholarship. The Gates Millennium doesn’t just cover tuition or books. It covers everything you could imagine.

Espitia will receive as much money as needed to complete her education. If she chooses to go as far as her doctorate degree, all tuition will be covered. Books will be paid for, living expenses, and even gas costs will be paid for.

“I can’t believe it,” Espitia said. “It’s such a relief because paying for college is stressful.”

Espitia plans to attend the University of Georgia to complete her core classes before transferring to the University of North Carolina to complete a nursing degree and become a nurse practitioner.

She said her dream of attending UNC’s prestigious nursing program might’ve been out of the question if she hadn’t received the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

“I want to thank my teachers Dr. Miller, Mrs. Brigman and Mrs. Chapfield,” said Espitia, then adding, “And all the teachers I’ve had!”

During her college career, Espitia must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and be enrolled full time to keep the scholarship.

“I’m relieved it’s all paid for,” Espitia said. “All my hard work paid off.”