Three Alaska Students Receive Gates Scholarships


Three Alaska high school students mentored by teachers in the Talk Story, Write Story writing program have been chosen as recipients of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship for the 2014 – 15 academic year. The Association of Alaska School Boards sponsors the Talk Story, Write Story creative writing workshops for teachers. Mary Pingayak and Kyla Fermoyle, both from Chevak, and Martina May Brown from Ketchikan, were chosen from more than 52,000 applicants that qualify from a designated minority population and on a function of other factors, including dependency status, family income, family size and the number of students in the family. Only 1000 recipients are chosen annually from around the nation to receive the scholarship.

The new Gates recipients’ teacher-mentors are, in Chevak, Jeanne Campbell, and in Ketchikan, Robert McClory and Natasha O’Brien.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship program was established in 1999 and is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As Gates Millennium Scholars, each of the high school graduates will receive an all-expense paid education through the undergraduate level at any accredited college or university in the United States of their choice. The Gates Millennium Scholarship includes up to 10 years of schooling through the doctoral level in the select fields of Computer Science, Education, Engineering, Library Science, Mathematics, Public Health or Science.

These young women were supported in the pursuit of the Gates scholarship through a project sponsored by the Association of Alaska School Board’s Consortium for Digital Learning. Tad Bartimus and Dean Wariner, co-directors of Talk Story, Write Story workshops, guided the winners’ teachers through four-day personal essay workshops in April 2013, in Ketchikan and Bethel. The workshops taught teachers how to help their students write their way into college and scholarships by showcasing their heritage, character, personalities, and goals.

Bartimus and Wariner continued to work with the teachers and their students from September through mid-January via technology (audio/video conferencing, email, and other electronic means) which proved a critical element in the Gates applicants’ success. A support team of parents, teachers, Talk Story, Write Story mentors, and AASB project leaders encouraged and motivated these students as they worked toward the January 16 submission deadline for accomplishing their goal of becoming Gates scholars.

Talk Story, Write Story’s goal is to train 100 Alaska teachers so they can mentor their worthy students and substantially increase Alaska students’ abilities to attend college through the Gates and other scholarships.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship Program offers a wide range of resources to assist these students in their academic pursuits and development as a leader. A Freshmen Leadership Conference orients students for a transition to college. Each student has access to graduate school planning, a mentoring program and a social networking website with exclusive access to other Gates Scholars.

Pingayak and Fermoyle plan to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage this next fall to major in Education and Pre-Med, respectively. Brown plans to attend the University of Portland School of Nursing.

For more information contact Bob Whicker.