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Whitworth welcomes six Gates Millennium Scholars

May 20, 2014

After graduating from Lewis and Clark High School this spring, Tika Khadka and four other Pacific Northwest high school seniors will join the Whitworth Class of 2018 as Gates Millennium Scholars.

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. In addition to Khadka, the other GMS recipients attending Whitworth in the fall are Nathan Alaya, Brodie Ford and James Best, of Wellpinit, Wash.; Dominique Cruz-Reyes, of Portland, Ore., and Brandin Smith, of Lake Roosevelt, Wash.

Khadka said she was speechless when she learned she had received the award. “My biggest dream has been to attend college,” Khadka says, but she thought it would be impossible due to family circumstances. She had no financial support before receiving the scholarship.

During her high-school career, Khadka has volunteered at organizations including the ESL Adult Extended Learning Institution, Amnesty International, and Washington Drug Free Youth. Showing strong extracurricular activities are an important factor for students applying for the scholarship.

Khadka intends to study biology to become an optometrist. She is planning to pursue a Ph.D. after graduating from Whitworth and to become a medical advocate for Bhutanese-Nepalese refugees in the United States.

GMS recipients are also provided with additional leadership development opportunities, mentoring, and academic and social support throughout their time in college. 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