Robert Hight, who is the 2012 valedictorian at Alcovy High School this year, was one of 1,000 recepients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship this year.
COVINGTON -- Three Newton County 2012 graduates are part of the 1,000 students across the nation to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship.
About 24,000 students across the University States and its territories applied this year.
In the Newton County School System, awards were given to Alcovy High School's 2012 valedictorian Robert Hight and Newton High School graduates Nancy Ejike and Laporsche Thomas.
The scholarships can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited college or university of their choice.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low-income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program also provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support.
Hight has been accepted to Oxford College, where he plans on majoring in biology and pursue a degree in Pre-Med.
"Robert Hight is a very academically talented student," said Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter. "During his high school career he exhibited a tremendous amount of academic focus that has allowed him to be awarded not only the Gates Millennium Scholarship, but several other scholarships as well."
Even though Ejike and Thomas are best friends, the recent graduates of Newton High School didn't know each other had applied for the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program until they both received confirmation that they had been selected.
"I was surprised and blessed," said Ejike. "I have the chance to become somebody completely different -- this is a chance to change your entire life and go to a school that you never thought you could."
Laporsche said it hasn't hit her yet that she was one of the ones to receive it.
"I'm humbled and blessed more than anything," she said.
Ejike is considering a major in pathology/Pre-Med at Emory University and a minor in sign language, while Thomas plans to major in mass communications with a minor in psychology at the University of Georgia or Spelman College.
"Nancy Ejike and LaPorsche Thomas are two fine examples of the high caliber of students we have at Newton High," said their principal, Dr. Craig Lockhart. "They are both serious students who have focused on high personal standards for success. These young ladies are able to compete at a global level, and they will enter into the world both college and career ready."
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said this is an extraordinary achievement for the three students.
"To be among just a thousand students in the United States to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship is truly outstanding in every way," he said. "It just goes to show that hard work and perseverance matters in school and also brings real rewards."