Kiwanda Robinson, 18, said her dream is to open an occupational therapy practice but that she worried about the difficulty of getting into college to pursue such a career.
After receiving a distinguished scholarship May 10 that will pay for a full education through a doctorate degree, however, she believes colleges will take notice of her application — specifically Temple University in Pennsylvania, where she hopes to go in the fall.
The Oxon Hill resident, who received the Gates Millennium Scholars program scholarship, was one of dozens of students who received scholarships, awards and recognition during Potomac High School’s May 10 senior awards ceremony.
“After I knew I was a finalist, I opened a letter and saw that it said welcome to the GMS family, and I was in shock, and I’m still in shock. It was a blessing,” Robinson said, adding that her passion to pursue occupational therapy stems from her mother’s mobility issues because of knee pains. “That’s what’s motivated me to help people and make a difference in their lives.”
The GMS program is a scholarship program founded in 1999 funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an educational opportunities fund created by Microsoft CEO and Chairman Bill Gates and his wife.
Robinson, the Potomac High class of 2012 valedictorian, said it was her leadership and community service that gained her the scholarship. Scholarship recipients are chosen based on three qualifiers: academic achievement, leadership and community service, according to the GMS website. In the spring of 2011, Robinson was the only congressional page from Prince George’s County in the House of Representatives, working as a page for U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Fort Washington, said Potomac Principal Robynne Prince.
Potomac seniors received a total of more than $1.5 million in scholarship money, an amount that has continually increased the past several years, Prince said, adding that she’s very excited about Robinson’s accomplishment.
“We were just overjoyed when we heard about that Gates scholarship. She’s a go-getter. Anything that comes across her plate, she applies herself to,” said Prince. “I think she’ll just pursue her heart’s desire, and I’m very proud of her.”
Alecia Frye, 18, of Temple Hills, was the other full-ride scholarship recipient highlighted during the evening ceremony. Frye took home a University of Maryland Incentive scholarship that will pay for four years of undergraduate tuition, room and board at the University of Maryland, College Park, where Frye plans to major in criminology and criminal justice.
“I love criminal justice. There’s always crime, and I think a lot of times people act like it’s something we can’t stop,” Frye said. “I think we can if we get it under control. So criminology will allow me to understand it, and criminal justice will allow me to stop it.”
Like Robinson, Frye said she was surprised to receive her scholarship. Frye’s father, Gary Frye, said her hard work and dedication to academics contributed to receiving the award.
“It’s just a blessing to see somebody who works hard get all that God intends for them,” Gary Frye said. “The pride that we have in her as a daughter is unparalleled.”
Apart from scholarship announcements during the ceremony attended by about 200 parents and students, awards were given for “most outstanding student” and other accolades in each academic department.