See Yang, a former participant in the Dakota County Technical College (DCTC) Upward Bound program, was recently named a Gates Millennium Scholar, an award provided by a grant through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that includes a full-ride scholarship for an undergraduate education through completion of a doctorate program.
Yang was part of DCTC’s Upward Bound program while she was a student at South St. Paul High School during her sophomore and junior years and was working towards an International Baccalaureate Diploma.
“I really liked Upward Bound and benefited from the field trips during Saturday sessions, weekly tutoring, study habit tips and campus visits,” said Yang.
Upward Bound is one of several TRiO programs funded by the Department of Education, providing fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance with the goal of increasing the rates at which participants enroll in and graduate from post-secondary education institutions. According to their Web site, Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree who are preparing to enter post-secondary education.
“My high school experience through Upward Bound and my parents really helped to provide a guide for my future. I feel that high school is an important time to prepare for the next step in life – not just to slack off,” said Yang.
In addition to being a leader in Upward Bound at DCTC, Yang was a participant in Key Club, Student Council and the National Honor Society. She also put many hours in at home to help her mom with a sewing business to earn money for the family, all while maintaining a 3.8 grade point average.
“My parents have really inspired me to be successful in life. The role they played as hard workers while still managing to find family time motivated me to become an ambitious person with a plan for the future,” she said. During her senior year, Yang moved to Roberts, Wis., but kept in touch with the DCTC Upward Bound staff as she looked at colleges and scholarships. Yang had learned of the Gates Millennium Scholarship while attending a TRiO Student Leadership conference during the fall 2004 with her Upward Bound group. When she decided to apply, DCTC Upward Bound advisors Melody Geiger and Joel Bisser served as her nominator and recommender, respectively, putting in the time and effort for the lengthy nomination process alongside See. Fortunately, all the time and energy ended up paying off big when Yang was selected.
“When I found out, I was in a study room right next to my sister, Thayeng. I was happy beyond words and my parents were the first to hear the exciting news,” said Yang.
Not long after her parents, Yang let the people who helped her attain the scholarship know as well.
“I had chills when I knew she had been selected. This is exactly what we work for with the students in the program,” said Geiger.
As of right now, Yang has not decided exactly what she wants to do, but does know that she will be going to college, with plans to attend Winona State.
“Probably something in the medical or business field,” she said.
Yang recognizes her biggest challenge so far as being balancing all of her activities, and she is looking forward to the new challenges being a Gates Millennium Scholar will bring.
Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) was an initiative established in 1999 to provide outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Natives, Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in all discipline areas and a graduate education for those students pursuing studies in mathematics, science, engineering, education or library science. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the initiative to encourage and support these students in completing undergraduate work and continuing on to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in disciplines where their ethnic and racial groups are currently underrepresented.