Recent LBJ High School Science Academy (Austin, Texas) graduate and ABC intern, Lan Truong, was named a Gates Millennium Scholar in May 2005. This enables her to pursue a degree in ethnobotany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa without the burden of tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. Truong was one of only 1000 high school seniors who received the award. The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) committee selects candidates based on multiple factors, including but not limited to academic merit, character, leadership, extracurricular activities, and financial need.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GMS was established in 1999 to provide outstanding low-income racial and ethnic minority students an opportunity to attain an undergraduate college education in the discipline of their choice. Students may renew the GMS award to pursue a graduate degree in education, engineering, library sciences, mathematics, or science. In order to qualify for GMS, nominees must be African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, or Hispanic American; must be a citizen, legal permanent resident or national of the United States; must have attained a cumulative GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale; must be entering a U.S. accredited college or university as a full-time, degree-seeking freshman in the fall; must have demonstrated leadership abilities through participation in community service, extracurricular or other activities; and must meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria.
Truong attributes much of her success to her experience at ABC. “I have no doubt that my internship at ABC contributed tremendously to my acceptance at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and to my GMS selection. In addition, I formed strong bonds with my mentors at ABC who supported me academically and personally. ABC’s exceptional staff has contributed immensely to my passion for ethnobotany, my progress on my life path, and my success in other facets of my life.”
At her request, ABC Executive Director Mark Blumenthal recommended Truong for GSM. “As an educational organization, our internship program is one of the best ways we can directly provide a positive impact on the lives of students,” said Blumenthal. “Lan is indeed a special person, with clear goals in life and the ability to marshal her intelligence and intention in order to reap some very well-deserved rewards. I strongly suspect that Lan will be contributing to society in some unforeseen yet deeply significant ways.”
In addition to her regular high school studies, being in National Honor Society, working with Austin Youth River Watch (http://www.ayrw.org/), and starting an ecology club at her high school, Truong completed a two-semester internship at the American Botanical Council as part of her junior year curriculum. She came to ABC after school Monday through Friday during which time she expanded her knowledge of ethnobotany through study of ABC’s extensive library, wrote articles and book reviews for HerbalGram, worked in ABC’s gardens, and produced descriptive signs for the various species of plants growing there, as well as helping to organize and staff a number of local events in which ABC participated.
Asked about her long-term goals, Truong replied, “I am thrilled to be able to pursue an education in ethnobotany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I think it is fate that U of H is offering the first-ever undergraduate degree in ethnobotany beginning fall 2005, my first semester there. Eventually, I plan to return to Vietnam to do ethnobotany research. In the meantime, I will be focused on my studies and acquiring more opportunities to expand my botanical knowledge through work study, internships, and other opportunities.”