Eight local high school students are among the 16 Act Six scholars recently named to receive full academic scholarships to Whitworth and Gonzaga universities.
The group of high school seniors was honored at a celebration last week hosted by Gonzaga Preparatory School, where they received gifts from the school they will attend in the fall and applause from their friends, family and teachers.
Malachi Areta of Ferris High School, Josh Nguyen of Shadle Park High School, NhatMihn Nguyen of Rogers High School and Willow Zimmerman of The Community School will be part of Whitworth University’s 16th group of Act Six recipients.
Gonzaga University, which is in its 10th year of participation in the program, will welcome Stephanie Assonken of Cheney High School, Mary Benjamin of Shadle High School, Tara Phung of Lewis and Clark High School and Marissa Ribeiro of Ferris High School.
The eight additional Act Six scholars were selected from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Each of the 100 students who applied had to write four essays, participate in a half-day interview, attend a weekend of assessments and supply letters of recommendation. The YMCA oversees the program and a group of five community volunteers spent weeks reading the essays and letters, said YMCA Branch Executive Christine Brischle.
“It’s a very emotional read,” she said. “It’s inspiring, it’s uplifting.”
The students are selected based on their leadership, their commitment to serving the community, their passion for learning and their willingness to create intercultural relationships.
Administrators from both universities spoke to welcome the students to their campus and congratulate them on their accomplishment.
“We already love you,” said Gonzaga Admissions Counselor Kenji Linane-Booey. “We’re already excited. Welcome to the family.”
The Rev. Stephy Nobles-Beans, Whitworth University’s coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusive ministries, urged the students to both work hard and enjoy the experience.
“You have a purpose and a destiny that is waiting for you,” she said.
Each student spoke briefly to talk about what they planned to study for the next four years, including computer science, electrical engineering, bio chemistry, education and pre-medicine.
The selection process may be over, but there is still more work to be done. Each of the students will spend the next six months in a training program that includes retreats, campus visits and meetings with Act Six staff.
Among those welcoming the newest group of Act Six scholars was August Carppetts, a freshman at Gonzaga who received an Act Six scholarship after she graduated from Gonzaga Prep last year. She said she knows what the students are going through and just how important the scholarship can be.
“It really just means the world,” she said.
She’s a first-generation college student double majoring in political science and Spanish and double minoring in leadership studies and women and gender studies. Her ultimate plan is to be a civil rights lawyer, Carppetts said.
Without the scholarship it might have been impossible to attend college and she certainly would not have been able to afford Gonzaga’s tuition, Carppetts said. “Since I was 8 years old I wanted to go to Gonzaga,” she said. “This just made it possible.”
Getting to know Gonzaga’s staff and faculty during the Act Six process before she arrived on campus was hugely beneficial, she said. Her fellow Act Six students were also very supportive.
“The support that it gives is what is so special about it,” she said.
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