NEO freshman Corey Pell thought he was a long shot when he applied for the Gates Millennium Scholarship. “They have tens of thousands of students that apply and they only pick about 1,000, so I didn’t figure I had much of a chance,” said Pell, he was in his senior year of high school when he applied. “I first found out that I was a finalist in the spring of 2015. I had a close friend who was the National FFA Association state president who earned one, so he told me about it and helped me through the application process.”
The highly competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship program was founded in 1999 and has funded more than 17,000 scholars. From 2000 to 2014, the program funded nearly one billion dollars to support high achieving minority students. The program was established to reduce financial barriers that might prevent students from achieving their academic goals.
A Native American student from Chouteau, Okla., Pell is majoring in Agriculture Education and competes on the livestock judging team. Earning the scholarship did not change his decision to attend NEO, since he had already committed and earned a livestock scholarship, but the scholarship eliminated any financial worry. “I was just like any other student getting ready to go to college,” said Pell. “I was trying to get every scholarship I could. NEO had already offered me a livestock judging scholarship and I really liked the program, so I had committed in December. I always try to work hard at everything I do, but knowing that I wasn’t going to have a debt from college was a really big relief. I still have to work hard to meet the grade requirements, but the scholarship lets me focus more on school.”
“Corey exemplifies the type of student and person all instructors, coaches, and mentors love to see come through NEO,” said Taylor Graham, NEO instructor and livestock judging coach. “He’s a hard worker and a great student.”
Pell plans to attend Oklahoma State University after he completes his degree at NEO. His father attended OSU and Pell wants to keep the tradition alive. While originally planning to finish with his bachelor’s degree, Pell is considering working toward his master’s degree. “I didn’t know if I wanted to go on and get my master’s degree,” said Pell. “But now with the Gates Millennium Scholarship, I have the opportunity to go and get my master’s in education, which gives me the opportunity to do a lot of good.” To find out more about the Gates Millennium Scholarship, visit www.gmsp.org. To find out more about NEO financial aid, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.