By Rachel Watson, CPN Department of Education Senior College Advisor

The Gates Scholarship is a special program that helps outstanding high school seniors in the U.S. who come from minority backgrounds. If you are a senior in high school, you might be eligible for this scholarship provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It offers full funding to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Application requirements include U.S. citizenship, a good academic record, proven leadership skills, and financial need. You must also be African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian and Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American.

Start the application process early so you have enough time to gather all the necessary documents and carefully write your application. The application opens July 15 and closes September 15. Be yourself and let your unique qualities shine through. Do not try to be what you think the Foundation wants; just be honest about who you are and what you’re passionate about.

To make your application strong, give examples and stories that show your achievements and leadership skills. Explain how you have made a positive impact in your community or in activities outside of school. Also, talk about your goals for the future and how receiving this scholarship will help you achieve them.

It’s a good idea to ask teachers or mentors for help. They can give you feedback and advice on your application. Make sure to edit and proofread your essays to make them clear and error-free. Follow the instructions carefully and submit your application on time.

The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Department of Education also offers assistance. Both Charles Lee and Rachel Watson are Gates Scholars and can help you write a strong essay. You can reach out through the portal (, via email at, or by phone at 405-695-6028.

Remember — the scholarship application process can be tough, and you might not get selected. Don’t give up, and stay positive. Every experience is a chance to learn and grow. Good luck with your application!