Hicks is Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

FRANKLIN—Shaleetta Hicks won’t pay a dime for her college education.

A senior at Franklin High School, Hicks received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded through a grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Hicks, who turns 18 on Thursday, will have her undergraduate, graduate and doctorate education paid for with the scholarship, which is awarded to 1,000 students annually. She plans to attend the University of Richmond in the fall and major in mathematics and minor in business.

“For a long time I wanted to go to the College of William & Mary,” Hicks said. “But when I went to Richmond, I really liked the environment and the campus.”

According to the Gates Millennium Scholarship website, students are eligible for the scholarship if they earn a cumulative grade-point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale and have demonstrated a leadership role in community service. The scholarship is open to Americans of African, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Hicks has a 4.03 GPA, is involved in the Distributive Education Clubs of America and plays six sports.

Applying for the scholarship was a long process, capped off by a 20-page application package.

“The length kind of discourages people from applying, but I had a whole lot of people pushing me,” Hicks said. “Plus, I really needed the money because I don’t have any.”

She credits family and friends with motivating her to go for the scholarship, extending special thanks to her mother, teachers, Jasmine Smith, Olivia and Sandra Walker, Angel Cashwell and the Revs. D.S. Riddick and Jennell Riddick from First Baptist Church in Franklin.

“Thanks for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself at all,” Hicks said. “I really appreciate it and I will never forget you.”

She said she plans to someday earn her doctorate, and wants to return to Franklin and open up her own business.

“I want to help the community,” Hicks said. “It needs a lot of help here.”