Gatton Student Receives Prestigious Gates Scholarship
- Cheryl Kirby-Stokes
- Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky senior Christine Belance (’21, Fairdale HS) has received the competitive Gates Scholarship, a program funding only 300 students per year for the full cost of attendance not already covered by other financial aid.
The Gates Scholarship launched in 2017, and through it, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues its long-standing commitment helping outstanding minority students from low-income backgrounds realize their maximum potential.
This prestigious scholarship program is based on evidence that by eliminating the financial barriers to college, a last-dollar scholarship can enable high-potential, low-income minority students excel in coursework, graduate college, and continue to be leaders throughout their lives.
Belance has participated in Gatton’s STEM + Arabic program and is a founder of Project Unite, a Gatton club celebrating the diversity of The Gatton Academy and educating peers on diversity initiatives. She has completed research with Dr. Katie Algeo in WKU Earth, Environmental, and Atmospheric Sciences, exploring the impacts of national park creation on African American land-owning families in the Mammoth Cave area.
Belance will attend the University of Chicago this fall, majoring in Arabic, anthropology, and biology. Her career plans are to work in an Arab-speaking country as a forensic anthropologist.
“It is a tremendous honor to receive this recognition and scholarship. With the financial aid included, my goals are now in high gear, and so is my self-confidence,” Belance said. “It is phenomenal to see 17 years of hard work and dedication reap such an outcome. My aspirations for becoming a professor in forensic anthropology working in the Middle East are solidified. I will be making a difference in my own craft and way, trailblazing a path for others to see the value in history, science, and justice. Because of this scholarship, I now have the resources to be successful on my academic journey.”
“Christine Belance is one of those once-in-a-lifetime students,” said Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, Academic Opportunities Coordinator at The Gatton Academy. “I am going to miss her when she graduates. Epitomizing the best of what an academic can be (someone with an activist’s heart and an intellectual’s curiosity), the University of Chicago made a wise choice in Christine.”
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students, marking the eleventh consecutive appearance.