$72,238 reasons, that is.
Dashika, who will graduate this weekend with a 4.02 grade point average from Lithonia High School, is one of seven DeKalb County Gates Millennium Scholars in the 2009 graduating class.
Dashika, who is heading to Emory University’s Oxford College in the fall, said the scholarship will make college possible for her.
“I cried and thanked God,” said Dashika, who will be the first person in her family to go to college. “If I hadn’t gotten the scholarship I probably wouldn’t have been able to pay for college.”
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, founded in 1999 by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates, awards 1,000 scholarships annually to students from low-income families who might not otherwise make it to college. The scholarship pays all their costs to attend college.
The other 2009 DeKalb County Gates Scholars are Alicia Wilson, Columbia High School; Anna Cofie, Clarkston High School; Aaron Abram, Miller Grove High School; Sythea Lester, Greenforest Christian Academy; Gilbert Baxley, Tucker High School; and Jan-Michael Archer, Stone Mountain High School.
In the fall, they will join 5,000 Gates scholars who attend more than 900 colleges and universities nationwide.
Dashika began her scholarship search during her freshman year after hearing about two Cedar Grove students who got Gates scholarships. Her inquiries led to her counselor nominating her for the scholarship.
She plans to major in chemistry.
Anna Cofie, 17, is the third Clarkston High School student to get a Gates scholarship. She is headed to New York’s Syracuse University in the fall with a 3.82 GPA.
“I’m happy because my mom doesn’t have to worry about paying my bills and I don’t have to worry about paying things,” she said this week. “I am very grateful.”
During an awards ceremony at Clarkston High School on May 16, Ayan Hussein, one of Clarkston’s previous Gates Scholars, who now attends the University of Georgia, said she is proud of Anna.
“All of your hard work at Clarkston High School has finally paid off,” she told her. “Getting this prestigious scholarship is a testament to all your hard work.”
Alicia Wilson, the 2009 Columbia High School Gates Scholar, is also her school’s magnet program valedictorian. She says she is both “honored and blessed” to have received the scholarship.
Alicia, who has a 3.99 GPA, is going to Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Alicia said she is honored to be valedictorian, but more excited to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship because it is going to pay for her education.
“It will enable me to do what I want to do in the future,” she said.
Alicia said the scholarship takes a lot of stress off her parents.
“The type of parents I have they would have found a way somehow, because they know how important education is, but it’s a big stress reliever,” she said. Sythea Lester of Greenforest Christian Academy is attending Emory’s Oxford College.Tucker High’s Gilbert Baxley is attending Jackson State. Miller Groves’ Aaron Abram is attending Florida State University. Jan-Michael Archer of Stone Mountain is going to the University of Tampa.