By Chanda Temple
Special to the Times
Birmingham City Schools’ students Stanley Louis II and Maya Quinn have big dreams for their future.
Just a few weeks ago, they received news that they’d been selected for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. The full-ride scholarships, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, cover costs for college and graduate school for outstanding minority students. The program started in 1999.
Maya is a senior at Ramsay High School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society, a tutor at Tuggle Elementary, president of the Math Club and Robotics Team and is a member of the Key Club. She’s also the school valedictorian with a 4.45 GPA on a 4.0 scale. She scored a 30 on the ACT.
She plans to attend Samford University and study biology. She will be in Honors College at Samford. Her goal is to go into biological research and attend medical school.
“Knowing I can go where I’ve wanted to go since the ninth grade is phenomenal,’’ Maya said of Samford. “The first time I visited Samford was during a college tour trip. The campus, it just immediately spoke to me.’’
Stanley is a senior at Huffman High School, where he is in the choir, is the head drum major in the marching band, he plays 11 instruments, is a member of the National Honor Society and is on the lacrosse team. He plans to attend Alabama State University to study media communications with a concentration on music technology. He wants to get his doctorate.
“Most people think I’m going to Yale or Harvard because of this scholarship. But no, I’m staying right here in Alabama,’’ Stanley said. “I don’t want Alabama just to be known for sports. I want it to be known for academics.’’
Receiving the scholarships removes a big worry in having to pay for college.
“This is such a big weight off of me and off of my mother, who’s currently on disability,’’ Maya said. “When I heard about the Gates Scholarship, my mother said, ‘You should apply for it.’ I was worried I wouldn’t get it. I talked it over with my teachers and they said, ‘You are such a good writer. You should go for it.’ And I did. ‘’
During the process, Maya kept telling herself that: “The only person able to stop you is you.’’
“You make the choice to listen to what people tell you. And you also make the choice of how you will live each day,’’ she said. ” So if you don’t think you can do it, it’s not going to happen. But if you just persist and continue to work hard, no matter what failures may come, you will succeed in the end,’’ she said.
Like Maya, Stanley took a chance and applied. He’s known about the scholarship since his middle school years. When it came time to write essays as part of the application, he said he wrote from his heart. He credits his time at Huffman High for molding him into the student he is today.
“I’ve had nothing but role models everywhere at Huffman,’’ Stanley said. “My principal (John Lyons Jr.) is the main one. My teachers have been always behind me, pushing me and always reminding me I can be great,’’ Stanley said.
Said Lyons: “Stanley is the fourth Gates Scholar since I’ve been at Huffman. I’m so proud of him. He exemplifies what I’d like to see all the young men at Huffman achieve. Since ninth grade, Stanley has been a role model for all of the students. He’s dedicated to his studies and his extracurricular activities.’’
Heather Jackson, the senior counselor at Ramsay, said Maya worked hard to get where she is. “Whatever she wants for herself, she dreams big,’’ Jackson said. “That’s what matters to me, and I’m standing behind her 100 percent.’’