By Samson Lim, APIASF/GMS Scholar
When I received my Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) decision letter in April of my senior year in high school, I thought it was an April Fools Joke. I could not believe that I had actually been selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar!
After the initial shock and thoughts of disbelief had passed though, an overwhelming sense of relief set in — I could go to college without worrying about crippling student debt.
Had I not received my GMS letter that day, I would’ve continued applying for scholarships. After all, my goal all along had been to apply for scholarship after scholarship until I had enough funding for college. By the time I received my GMS decision, I had submitted over 75 scholarship applications.
All that work paid off though, because my four years at the University of Washington opened up so many doors that I would never have been able to access had it not been for the generosity of scholarships like GMS.
Instead of having to work multiple jobs just to pay tuition or rent, I was able to spend most of my time outside of class volunteering with a student-led, student-initiated college access and retention program called the University of Washington Dream Project.
In weekly visits to local high schools as a Dream Project mentor, I worked closely with dozens of high school juniors and seniors as they worked on college and scholarship applications. The stories of tremendous struggle and even more extraordinary perseverance to overcome challenges were humbling to say the least.