Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

May 5, 2011

Van Gunten wins Gates Millenium Fund Scholarship

RONAN A Ronan High School student is among the students picked from 23,000 minority students who applied to receive a Gates Millennium Fund Scholarship.

It was a thrilling moment as 18-year-old Alice Van Gunten of Pablo learned she would become a Gates Millennium Scholar, an honor that includes a scholarship funded by billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

"Really happy and I started crying and my mom started crying and it was really exciting," said Alice VanGunten.

The Ronan senior will get a full-ride scholarship to any college that accepts her application. The scholarship will cover her costs through Ph.D. studies. Without it, mom Renee Van Gunten says Alice's choices would have been limited.

"She would probably be going to a lot smaller school, maybe closer to home. Now she can excel and go anywhere she chooses to go."

It's no easy task being named a Gates scholar. Alice is one of just 150 Native Americans to earn the honor out of 23,000 minority students who applied.

Alice is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes and had to meet certain criteria, such as a 3.3 GPA and adequate ACT and SAT test scores. Besides the application and essays, Alice had to be nominated, but she says all the hard work paid off.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity because you can only get it as a freshman or like going to be a freshman. There's no retries and there's not a lot of scholarships that give you a full ride for your college education."

Alice plans to study pre-med at Washington State University in the fall. Her goal is to become a doctor and return to the Flathead Reservation to help her community.

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