Cass Tech senior Troy Hardges is the recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholarship for the 2021- 2022 school year. He was encouraged to apply for the revered scholarship and because of his hard work throughout high school, he was awarded the scholarship in April.
The Gates Millennium Scholarship program, established in 1999, was created to promote academic excellence and to provide post-high school opportunities for outstanding minority students with significant financial needs. This program gives funds to 1,000 students every year to cover tuition, books, and living expenses so minority students can complete their undergraduate degree.
Hardges will graduate from Cass Tech with a weighted GPA of 4.15.
“The initial process ... opened in August and it was just simply, you know, demographic information. Then after that, that's about 37,000 applicants. And then a couple months later, they knock it down, like straight from there to 2,000 for the semifinals.” said Hardges.
Hardges said he also had to write four essays as part of the application process. Those essays had to be personal reflections that told his own story.
Hardges applied to 30-plus universities during his senior year at Cass. He has decided to attend Syracuse University in New York in the fall. He plans on majoring in advertising.
Hardges said he many fond memories of being a student at Cass even though the past two years have been challenging to be a student because of the pandemic and everything it affected.
Hardges described the most challenging experience for him during high school was when he received a B in gym when he was striving for all A’s.
“It's funny, cause the only B that was on my transcript was from gym, which is very ironic, considering like there's so many … hard classes that I've taken, IB AP. I got one B in gym and it really crushed me because it was the only thing weighing on my GPA,” said Hardges.
He also expressed the struggles the pandemic added to maintaining his GPA.
Hardges said he found out he received the Gates Millennium scholarship. He received the notification on April 20 via email when he was with friends.
“I just held the phone close and it said, 'Congratulations.' And I just stopped everything," he said. "And I just stared, I was like, 'I got Gates; and they're like, 'What?' They're like, "What's wrong.' I'm like, 'I got Gates.' And it was just, it was crazy, but I'll never forget that.”
Hardges offers this advice for future applicants of the Gates scholarships and seniors applying for other scholarships: "If I can do it, you can do it. You don't need the perfect GPA. You don't need to be the valedictorian of your class. They want to see when you do activities that are different from other people. When you have a story to tell and tell it in the most authentic way possible because they can see right through a generic story.”
He also said it is important to seek out help when writing your essays. He is appreciative to Cass Tech ELA teacher Sherise Hedgespeth for her consistent assistance with his essay writing throughout the application process.
He is most grateful to those who encouraged him to always do his best he wants all students to know that anything is possible and to not give up.