You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Apr 2, 2013 : 8 p.m.

Huron High student named finalist for full-ride scholarship from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

By Danielle Arndt

A Huron High School senior was named a finalist for a good-through-graduation college scholarship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Every year, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program presents 1,000 outstanding minority students nationwide with a full-ride scholarship that continues until they obtain their college degrees or decide to drop out or cease their studies.


Huron Rising Scholars adviser Brandon Jackson, right, with his student Abraham "Ayo" Fasina. Fasina is a finalist to receive a good-to-graduation college scholarship funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

From AAPS News

The goal of the program is to reduce the financial barriers for minority students who show great academic promise and leadership capabilities.

Ann Arbor's Abraham "Ayo" Fasina was nominated for the scholarship by his Huron High School Rising Scholars adviser, Brandon Jackson, and counselor, Denise Eaddy-Richardson.

Fasina has been part of the Rising Scholars program since he was a freshman and is a true success story of the program, Jackson said, adding Fasina had to complete and submit about eight essays after his nomination.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program will announce its 1,000 award recipients in mid-April, according to its website.

Fasina's parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria. Jackson said many probably would consider Fasina just your average student, but Jackson said the 17-year-old works "incredibly hard" and is driven to continuously improve.

"Math and science … were not coming to him, but he has been spending a lot of time working at it and working at it," Jackson said. "But as hard as he works, he is still very humble about the things that come to him, and when he gets good grades, he thinks he needs to work harder still and could do better."

Ann Arbor's Rising Scholars program strives to provide support for students who may not believe college is a realistic option for them by creating an environment that encourages them to take challenging courses, improve their grades and apply and get accepted to quality institutions and universities.

"Our goal is making sure our students, who are non-traditional, underserved and underrepresented, are applying for those schools and see themselves in a position of attainment," Jackson said.

Fasina has been accepted to a few colleges already, Jackson said. But the senior's goal right now is to get in to the University of Michigan, where Fasina would like to study computer science and computer engineering.

The Gates Millennium Program provides a full-ride scholarship to its winners for whichever college or university they would like to attend. The program continues to pay for the winners' schooling as long and as far as they would like to take it.

The award recipients could go on to attend a graduate school for a degree in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science on the program's dime.

The Gates Millennium Program is more than a scholarship, however. According to its website, it offers award recipients "academic empowerment" services for both academic and personal development, as well as access to an online resource center that provides internship, fellowship and scholarship opportunities.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program was established in 1999 and was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to its website. The United Negro College Fund administers the scholarships. Since the program's inception, it has distributed more than $614 million in scholarships.

Students must be high school seniors or graduate with a minimum grade point average of a 3.3 and be of African American, American Indian, Alaskan, Asian or Hispanic descent to be eligible for one of the 1,000 scholarships.

According to the program's website, the average first-year undergraduate student retention rate is 96 percent among Gates scholars and the average second-year retention rate is 97 percent. The five-year graduation rate for these students is 78.9 percent and the six-year graduation rate is more than 90 percent, the website says.

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Congrats Ayo. Keep up the great work! Jns131, not really. Here's some evidence that scholarships aren't really slanted as you suggest. And I provided the link so that those who are interested may read the entire article in Inside Higher Ed. "Every so often, the issue of financial aid awarded on the basis of students' race flares. Lawsuits crop up challenging a state's or institution's ability to consider students' race in handing out grants, or a white student (or a group of such students) announces the creation of a fund for scholarships reserved for white students, on the grounds that grant money flows disproportionately to members of minority groups. A new report challenges the assumptions underlying such developments. The study, by the financial aid analyst Mark Kantrowitz, is plain about its goal: to debunk what the author calls "the race myth, which claims that minority students receive more than their fair share of scholarships." ...Looking at all of those forms of financial aid together (excepting only federal tax benefits), Kantrowitz finds that the money flows to students of different races roughly in proportion to their representation in the overall postsecondary population: Read more: Inside Higher Ed


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

All I can say is this. Must be nice. Scholarships are so slanted.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

That is so cool! Way to spend your dollars B and M.

Elijah Shalis

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Congrats Mr. Fasinom and Go Huron!


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Jackson said many probably would consider Fasina just your average student. I do not think anyone trying their best and trying to do better should EVER be called average. Average is what we all should be called when we are NOT doing our best. I may not have said this the best to get my point across. But I congratulate Ayo, and wish the best for him!

Joel A. Levitt

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Congratulations to the youmg Mr. Fasino, to his parents and to all those involved in the Rising Scholars program.

Sam S Smith

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 9:54 a.m.

Congratulations Mr. Fasina!

Jay Thomas

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 9:27 a.m.

The chances of Mr. Fasino working for Microsoft are slim. They prefer H1B's, etc. as mentioned by others. So what is the point of giving black Americans scholarships to study computer science... and then giving the jobs to foreigners?


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

he just doesn't want to pay his employees American college degree wages.

Elijah Shalis

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

There are many other tech companies and I think your wrong.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:23 a.m.

It's spelled "descent", not "decent".

Danielle Arndt

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Thanks for pointing out the typo. It's been fixed.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

"African American, American Indian, Alaskan, Asian or Hispanic decent to be eligible for one of the 1,000 scholarships" If there is one group in the United States of America that is getting it from the left and the right, it is working class and poor Whites. Gates can do what he wants with his money but I hope he chokes on it and his never ending support for H1-B visas.


Thu, Apr 4, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.



Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

It's great to see a young man work so hard to earn this well-deserved opportunity. I wish you luck, Ayo.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

"a full-ride scholarship that continues until they obtain their college degrees or decide to drop out.." Really, Until they decide to drop out? The scholarship website has a narrative of success, "Providing seamless support from undergraduate through doctoral programs, for students selected as Gates Millennium Scholars entering target disciplines.," but starts with a narrative of failure. No surprise students have difficulties in some cases and an education gap results, if this is what community members think about our chances of success. Congratulations to young Mr. Fasina for rising above this kind of thinking and becoming a finalist.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Glad I'm not the only one who's brow wrinkled at that line... "until they drop out" I found it tack at best.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:08 a.m.

What a wonderful honor! Good luck and I hope you realize your dreams Ayo.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1 a.m.


Samuel Burns

Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:34 a.m.

Good luck! It's great to see local kids doing awesome things!


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

I agree! Its nice to see a good news article about one of our youths, as we've seen far too much negative/criminal activity the last year and a half.


Wed, Apr 3, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

Best of luck to you, Ayo!