EAST CHICAGO | Dr. Chandra Gill had a variety of pointed messages for high school students in their quest for academic excellence when she met with a highly receptive audience at a first-of-its kind presentation recently at East Chicago Central High School.
"The only limit you have is what you put upon yourself," she told students. "Failure does not define you, it refines you."
Dr. Gill's remarks came as she joined representatives from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program to share information and inspiring examples of academic success with about 100 high-achieving students, 15 parents, the Honerable Judge Sonya A. Morris and City Clerk Mary Morris Leonard. Faculty was also invited by Principal Lydia Jagger, who helped organize the event.
Dr. Gill was an inaugural Gates Millennium Scholar, and her Blackademically Speaking Enterprises co-sponsored the event with the local philanthropic organization, Foundations of East Chicago.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GMS has provided nearly $1 billion in scholarships to more than 16,000 students nationally. GMS selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice.
Mary Williams, GMS director for Outreach and Recruitment, shared with the ECHS audience reasons why the Gates Foundation offers the scholarship opportunities, along with guidelines and tips to help the students with their applications, due in January.
“This was the first time the Gates Millennium program has come out to recruit our students. Our juniors and seniors were so enthusiastic that Dr. Gill intends to help them form a club to get through the application process,” said Russell G. Taylor, executive director of the Foundations of East Chicago, which has awarded $4.7 million in scholarships to local students since 1998.
Only 10 students from East Chicago applied for the scholarships between 2001 and 2012, while one local recipient, Marsalis Gibson, now attends the University of California, Berkley.