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Gates Millennium Scholar chooses to attend Whitworth

June 3, 2013

Caleb B. Bia, who was recently selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS), an honor that provides a full-ride college scholarship, has decided to pursue his education at Whitworth University. He plans to major in kinesiology.

A senior at Rehoboth Christian High School, Bia has been on the Honor Roll throughout his high school career and has also been involved in choir and band. Bia helps lead worship as a drummer at his church; he also organizes and supervises youth-group activities during the week. In addition to being nominated for the Gates Millennium Scholar award, he received the New Mexico Kingdom Award after being nominated as a future community leader by high school staff.

Bia also excelled in basketball and track, and he was captain of his varsity soccer team. He plans to play soccer at Whitworth, as well.

Bia was alone when he read the letter informing him that he had received the GMS award, and he says he reacted by rejoicing out loud. “Thanksgiving to the Lord was all that I was thinking during the moment,” he says. Bia is excited to attend Whitworth and meet more people in the campus community. “I’ve already met so many great people at Whitworth,” Bia says. “I'm glad that I can have the opportunity to continue getting an education in a great environment with great people.”

Bia was recommended and nominated to apply for the scholarship by his soccer coach, Nick Donkersloot, and his choir director, Bob Ippel. Approximately 24,000 students applied to the GMS Program, and Bia was one of 1,000 students who received this year's award. “Caleb has a work ethic that surpasses most high school seniors,” said Donkersloot. “Be it in the classroom or on the field, his classmates and teammates look up to and respect him. Whitworth is truly blessed to gain him as a student.”

The GMS program is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and 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. The program provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support as well as with financial support. The program is known for its recipients' high graduation rates, boasting a six-year rate of 90 percent (45 percent higher than the national graduation rate for all students).

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or