Five seniors at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, including two from Muldrow, have been named Gates Millennium Scholars, receiving up to $1.25 million in college scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Tyler VonHolt, 18, and Payne Ummerteskee, 17, both of Muldrow, are among the scholarship winners. The scholarship winners are, from the left above, Billy Sunday, Payne Ummerteskee, Bailee Smith, Sadie Red Eagle and Tyler VonHolt.
Each year the foundation awards 1,000 minority students, 150 of which are Native American, up to $250,000 in college scholarships per scholar. The scholarship is based on a 3.5 GPA, community service hours, leadership and eight written essays.
Sequoyah Schools' Superintendent Leroy Qualls said, "It is a tribute to the hard work and dedication shown by our students to be selected as Gates Millennium Scholars. Sequoyah is consistently one of the top schools in the nation in the number of Gates Millennium Scholarship recipients each year, which is something we take great pride in."
"I wasn't expecting to get it, so I'm extremely relieved," said Ummerteskee, a Cherokee Nation citizen. "If I didn't get it, I wasn't going to be able to go to my first choice for college, because I didn't have the money to pay for it. Gates allows me to attend the college I really want to go to."
Ummerteskee, the son of Paul and Olivia Ummerteskee, will attend the University of Tulsa and major in pre-med and chemical engineering.
VonHolt is the son of Billie House. He will attend Rogers State University in Claremore and major in pre-med. He is a Cherokee Nation citizen.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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