PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - One Pascagoula high senior will head to college this fall without any worries about how to pay for it. Jasmine Calvillo is one of 1,000 recipients in the nation benefiting from the Gates Millennium Scholarship. It's a good-through-graduation scholarship which will cover tuition all the way up to a doctorate degree.
"I was overwhelmed. I was speechless and I was screaming in front of my mailbox. I was so excited," Calvillo said.
The money comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote academic excellence and provide more opportunities to outstanding minority students with significant financial need, so they can to reach their highest potential.
"It is a really prestigious scholarship and I know this year is the most competitive year so far with 56,000 people, and only 1,000 students got it across the nation," Calvillo said.
This honor student said it was much more work than just applying for the scholarship.
"You have to write about eight, 1,000 word essays, you have to go through this questionnaire, you have to get a recommender and a nominator."
The teen believes it was her essays that painted a revealing portrait of her life and the hardships she overcame growing up that made her standout.
"I incorporated how I lived in Mexico and I lived in the Philippines and there is a lot of poverty there. And I was aware of it and had to face it myself, and I am now able to communicate and understand people from that level."
The senior already has her future mapped out. She plans to use the scholarship money to attend Millsaps College and Harvard University, study abroad, and get a doctorate degree.
"I am going to go in as pre-med and get a biochemistry major; I want to be an anesthesiologist," Calvillo said.
This scholarship winner has some advice for other teens who want to follow in her footsteps.
"If you set your mind to it, you can do it."
Carvillo is the fourth student from the Pascagoula School District to receive the Gates Millennium Scholarship. The 2015 GMS Online Application will be available August 1, 2014. Read more about the eligibility requirements, and how to apply here: http://www.gmsp.org/