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Lathrop senior receives $60K a year Gates scholarship

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Lathrop senior receives $60K a year Gates scholarship

Lathrop High School senior Nicholas Vaughn is one of 1,000 recipients of the Gates Millennium Scholarship - covering his college tuition from the prerequisite classes he’ll take next year at the Un...

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED May 15, 2013 1:58 a.m.

It takes work to apply for college scholarships.

But nothing could have prepared Nicholas Vaughn for the undertaking he would commit to when he decided to apply for the Gates Millennium Scholarship -- awarded annually to the best and the brightest around the globe that make it through the rigorous selection process.

Well, maybe the work that he did at Lathrop High School - where he’s currently holding down a grade point average in excess of 4.0 - prepared him. And maybe the work that he’s done for the past 13 years of his life as a public school student helped prepare him - establishing that platform for academic excellence and the understanding that learning continues even beyond when you no longer have to go to school.

So after writing nine individual essays and getting each of his teachers to vouch for him as a student and as a human being, Vaughn finally learned last month that he was one of 1,000 students that continue in the tradition of the scholarship formed in 1999 when Bill and Melinda Gates donated $1 billion to the United Negro College Fund and asked the organization to serve as stewards of the money.

Vaughn will attend the University of the Pacific in Stockton next year where he plans on majoring in electrical engineering. He knows that before he ever steps foot on campus his collegiate education is paid for until people in academic circles start calling him doctor.

“It was a huge honor to be chosen and I’m just looking forward to the opportunities this will present me,” said Vaughn Tuesday night at the Lathrop High School senior awards ceremony. “I saw online that this girl from San Jose was being honored as a Bill Gates Millennial scholar and it was something that I started to look into. It took some work but it paid off and I’m glad that I stuck with it.

“I’m at the crossroads of this unbelievable time in my life, and I never thought that all of this would happen for me -- that this could happen in my life. It’s a great honor and I’m glad that I stuck with it.”

While most people are satisfied with being told why or how something works, Vaughn said that he’s always been the kind of person who has to see for himself -- making a foray into the world on engineering such a natural one.

And his mother, who stayed up late with him searching for online opportunities to make sure that her son was able to go to college, said that he’s always been that way.

The style of engineering might change over the course of the coming year, but Vaughn said that he definitely wants to work in a field where he’s able to answer the childhood questions he had about how and why things work.

“When I was young I had to have somebody explain to me how things worked,” Vaughn said. “Now I’m going to have the opportunity to explain those things to other people, and it’s a great feeling to be in that position.

“This will show me new processes that will allow me to find the truth, and I’m fascinated with that process. I’m looking forward to it.”

The scholarship covers upwards of $60,000 every year. As long as Vaughn meets the requirements laid out in the agreement, that funding will continue to roll in through his graduate work.

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