DeJuan McBurnie, a Middle Georgia State College GAMES student, has been named a 2014 Gates Millennium Scholar. The highly competitive scholarships were awarded to just 1,000 students out of 52,000 total applicants.
Created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. For McBurnie, 17, the award likely means that combined with other financial aid he will be able to complete his planned bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering debt-free.
"Before I even began high school, I was worried about how I would pay for college," said McBurnie, who plans to enroll at Georgia Tech. "This is a great opportunity."
McBurnie, son of Alicia McBurnie and the late Stephen Nkabyo, is the first Middle Georgia State GAMES student to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar. A residential program based on the Cochran Campus, the Georgia Academy of Aviation, Mathematics, Engineering and Science is designed so that scholastic students can earn a high school diploma from their home high school and an associate's degree simultaneously.
In May, McBurnie will graduate from Marietta's Sprayberry High School while also picking up his associate's degree in math from Middle Georgia State.
"I can’t think of a finer recipient for this scholarship than DeJuan," said Lisa Whitaker, GAMES director. "He is an intelligent young man, obviously, but he is also polite, humble and respectful. I have no doubt that DeJuan will reach the high goals he has set for himself."
Forty five GAMES students are graduating in May. Several other members of the class have also been accepted to Georgia Tech. Other universities this year's GAMES grads are bound for include University of Georgia, University of Chicago, Auburn University, Hofstra University, American University, West Point and Georgia Regents University.
McBurnie enrolled in GAMES two years ago because he thought it would be a great way to challenge himself and complete core courses before enrolling at Georgia Tech. GAMES students take most classes together, live as a community in the same residential hall and have their own study and recreational areas, but they also participate with "regular" students in campus activities.
GAMES "most definitely made me a better student," McBurnie said. "It helped me with work habits, study skills and mental skills."
Among many other things, McBurnie was active in Middle Georgia State's aeronautics, science, math and chess clubs. He was captain of the intramural soccer team. He holds a student pilot's license. In what he describes as one of the happiest days of his life, he made his first solo flight in 2012, piloting a Diamond DA20. He is learning to program in C++ and plays and produces music. McBurnie will graduate with a 3.6 GPA.
McBurnie said the exact amount of his Gates award is being worked out, but he thinks it will be about $24,000 for his first year at Georgia Tech. Recipients must meet certain requirements to renew the award each year.
Since its start in 2000, Gates Millennium Scholars awarded more than $763 million in scholarships to 16,000 students. The program is administered by the United Negro College Fund. GMS will announce the complete list of 2014 recipients by the end of April. (Source: http://www.gmsp.org/default.aspx.)
More information about Middle Georgia State's GAMES program is at: http://www.mga.edu/GAMES/.