Fairmont Preparatory Academy announced this month that senior Huaiqi “Michael” Liao is one of 197 students in California to receive a coveted 2011 Gates Millennium Scholarship. This is the first student at Fairmont Prep to be honored with the award which will cover the cost of Liao’s education from his freshman year at UC Berkeley until graduation and even beyond. Given he still meets the program’s academic and financial qualifications, Liao’s entire post-secondary education could be paid for through his Masters and even PhD-level degrees.

The nation’s largest scholarship program, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, awarded 1,000 high school seniors nationwide with good-through-graduation college scholarships this year. The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose. Continuing Gates Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence by providing thousands of outstanding students, who have significant financial need, the opportunity to reach their full potential.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for a very deserving young man who has proven that he is not only a strong student but an enthusiastic leader with a heart for helping others around the world,” said Fairmont Preparatory Academy Headmaster Robert Mendoza. “Michael’s global perspective and passion for volunteerism is indicative of the entire Class of 2011. These young men and women are driven to succeed, not strictly for personal gain, but for the betterment of society as a whole. We are very proud of Michael and look forward to hearing more about him in the future.”
Liao plans to put his scholarship to good use at UC Berkeley this fall where he will study engineering—he is interested in both Civil Engineering and Aerospace Engineering. He also plans to continue his community service work while in college, reestablishing the Scholars of Ghandu Club he first started at Fairmont Preparatory Academy.

As part of the club, he and five fellow Fairmont Preparatory Academy students flew to Africa last summer and taught at the Ghandu Primary School in Kenya.  They lived with local families and taught math, science and other subjects to students in grades 1-8.  In addition to working with children in Africa, Liao returns to his former elementary school in the city of Hohhot in Inner Mongolia each summer to teach English.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program provides recipients with leadership training, mentoring, and academic and social support as well as financial support.  The Program is known for its recipients’ high graduation rates–a six-year rate of 90 percent (45 percent higher than the national graduation rates for all students) and comparable to the rates for students from high-income families.

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