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Scholarship ceremony full of emotion

SUWANEE -- Instructions for what to do after winning the Gates Millennium Scholarship:

  1. Call parents. Tell them you won.

  2. Text message all others who care about your educational career.

  3. Choose one of the following: (a) Run around the mailbox in circles, screaming. (b) Start crying. (c) Jump up and down.

  4. Resume previous activity, regain composure.

  5. RSVP for the awards ceremony.

Eight of the 11 students from Gwinnett County Public Schools who competed, and won, the full-tuition scholarship showed up Monday afternoon at the Instructional Support Center to formally accept their prize.

In an informal question and answer session, the winning students spoke about their different reactions to having found out they were awarded the scholarship: many involved plenty of emotion.

Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks congratulated the young people on a job well done.

"The Gates Millennium Scholarship reaches out and recognizes students with a lot of intellect who really work at it," Wilbanks said. "It's one of the most prestigious scholarships that's out there. The district is so honored that you are students here."

Brian Davis, a representative from the Gates Millennium Scholarship Foundation, echoed Wilbanks' remarks.

"You are among the top students, not just in Gwinnett County, but in the country," Davis said. "To receive this award is something achieved by few."

Davis said the 11 local students were among 1,000 chosen from more than 27,000 nationwide.

The students will receive up to five years of study funded fully by the organization. "This is a big, big award," Davis said.

Students who received the award locally included the following

-- Vivek Kamlesh Patel, Collins Hill

-- Arsalan Akkas Sufi, Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology

-- Alex Shaun Steele, Meadowcreek High

-- Seung Kwan Baek, Mill Creek

-- Kunal Hasmukh Tanna, Mountain View

-- Nayomi Raychelle Mitchell, Norcross

-- Xavier Sharif Galloway, Norcross

-- Anthony Alan Morgan, Norcross

-- Chan Mi Lim, North Gwinnett

-- David Emmanuel Wade Daniels, Peachtree Ridge

-- Javier Prusky Grinberg, Shiloh

In addition to the full scholarship, the Gates Millennium scholars also qualify for selected graduate and doctoral work.

The program, funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by the United Negro College Fund, promotes academic excellence for outstanding minority low-income students.

In order to earn the scholarship, seniors participated in a lengthy and competitive application process. Honorees were selected based on a review of their academic record, community involvement and extracurricular activities and their families' need for financial assistance.