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|News from the Big Apple… GEORGIA TEEN OF CARIBBEAN PARENTAGE WINS PRESTIGIOUS GATES MILLENNIUM SCHOLARSHIP|
|Saturday, 14 July 2012 19:05|
THE Guyana Chronicle today features 17-year-old Ashley Thornhill of Douglasville, Georgia, a U.S. national of Guyanese and Grenadian parentage who has been awarded the prestigious Gates Millennium Foundation Scholarship 2012.
Ashley Thornhill’s life is a living testimony to the efficacy of ‘Faith in Action’ and living in obedience to God. And indeed, her favourite affirmation is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
The stellar student was amongst 80 youths from Georgia, and an overall 1,000 from the United States of America, to have won the scholarship this time around.
This remarkable accomplishment now makes it possible for the modest teen to be admitted to a U.S. university of her choice, to pursue her career goal without her parents having to foot the bill.
She has elected to attend Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, where she will major in Biochemistry and minor in Spanish for her first degree. She aspires to one day becoming a neonatal researcher/medical doctor. The schools she is looking at are Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Meharry, Loma Linda, Morehouse, Emory and Mayo Clinic. On completion of her studies, she plans working primarily with vulnerable populations in her community.
The eldest of three siblings to her parents -- Ashely Thornhill of Grenada, a Mechanical Engineer and Math Coach; and Juliet Thornhill-Graham of Guyana, a qualified Physician’s Assistant-- Ashley recently graduated from the Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy (GAAA), a Seventh-day Adventist Christian school in Georgia, and is the first from that school to have won the award. She previously attended Chapel Hill Middle School in 7th and 8th grades, where she remained on the honour roll and was named ‘Student of the Month’ for January 2007; received the ‘Student of the Year’ Award for Reading, and was inducted into the Junior Beta Club.
She participated in cheer leading from the 9th to 11th grade, and graduated in grade 12.
Of affable disposition, and possessing a striking humanitarian personality, Ashley is predisposed to lending her time and talents to improve the lives of other people. With several years of community service under her belt, during the summer, Ashley had an exciting time on a medical missionary outreach to Guyana. It was during this time that the Sunday Chronicle caught up with the family and learnt of her academic achievement.
She travelled to Guyana as part of a missionary medical team from the New Jerusalem SDA Church in Douglasville called ‘SHOUT’ Health Ministries, headed by her parents; and while here, worked with the communities of Agricola and Mocha on the East Bank of Demerara; Buxton and other communities on the East Coast Demerara; and the hinterland community of Port Kaituma, North West District, from June 21-29.
During her time here, she served as a mentor and a youth leader, and with the group which provided patient education in areas such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, nutrition/cooking, purity and mentoring, and HIV/AIDS. The visiting team also worked in collaboration with the Davis Memorial Seventh Day Adventist Hospital which used a mobile health van to provide glucose and blood pressure checks.
Before arriving in Guyana, the family stopped over in Barbados to spend quality time with their only surviving grand-parent, Mrs. Evelyn Graham of Guyana, who had earlier lived with them in the USA.
Join Caroline Young, reporter of the Douglasville Neighbour Newspapers, for an interview with the scholar Ashley Thornhill, soon after her good fortune was made known:
Q: What are your career goals?
A: I aspire to become a neonatal researcher and a paediatrician. I want to save lives because I love children. I want to further neonatal research so that fewer babies die from congenital diseases. This subject hits close to home for me because my (only maternal) aunt, (paternal) uncle and cousin all were born with congenital heart defects. My uncle later died in his late 20s due to complications of congenital heath defects.
Q: What sacrifices did your parents make for you to succeed?
A: My dad lived alone in New York to continue providing for us, while my mom gave up her well-paying job in New York to relocate to Duluth, Georgia to offer my siblings and me a more family-oriented environment. We found a small community in Gwinnett County, GA., where we stayed for a year before coming here to Douglasville, GA. In addition, they sacrificed to send me to Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy (GAAA), a Seventh-day Adventist Christian school, and my mom home-schooled me for two years when we couldn’t afford Christian education.
Furthermore, she drove me to Duluth one hour each way for church, school and Pathfinders, until we finally transitioned to school and church in Douglasville.
Q: Please explain any financial difficulties your family faced over the past few years.
A: Living on one income in this economy is not easy, and my family was not immune to this fact. We live very simple lives and conserve in every way. My parents shop at Goodwill and other consignment stores. Despite our financial situation, my family gives faithfully to our church, and to people who are in need in our community and internationally. When you go through difficult times, it helps you to have compassion on others.
Q: Explain some obstacles you faced along your journey.
A: Some obstacles I faced along my journey were: separation from my dad, who kept his job in New York for 7 years before joining us permanently; adjusting to a new environment etc. Back in 5th grade, I had to complete 4th grade and 5th grade math, which taught me that I can do anything that I put my mind to, by the help of God and with guidance from teachers and my parents.
Mrs. Bernadeth Charles was my 5th grade teacher at Agape Junior Academy in Lawrenceville Ga. She helped me to get caught up in math. I went on to Duluth Junior Academy in Duluth Ga., Chapel Hill Middle School, home-school and my current GAAA high school with excellent performance in math and all my other subjects.
Q: What kind of mentality did you have in high school? What kept you motivated?
A: My main focus in high school was attaining my career goals. Thus I did everything necessary to achieve them, such as spending hours studying, taking excellent notes in class, and asking for help when I needed it. The motivation from my parents, church, teachers and mentor Dr. Luceta McRoy Ph.D kept me focused and grounded.
Q: Please list and tell me your role in all of the community service projects and choirs you were involved in. Include years.
A: (I was) Co-Founder and Director of the New Jerusalem Praise and Worship Center Seventh-day Adventist(SDA) Church Children’s Choir (Sept 2009 – Jan 2012);Summer Camp Volunteer for the New Jerusalem Praise and Worship Center Seventh-day Adventist Church (June 2011 – July 2011); Member of the Pathfinder Club (Aug 2005 – May 2011); Teen Leader in the Pathfinder Club (Sept 2010 – May 2011); Teen Leader in the Adventurer Club (Jan 2012 – present); Member of Morehouse School of Medicine’s Medical Prep Program (Sept 2011 – May 2012); Member of the Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy Concert Choir (Aug 2011 – May 2012); Minister in music at Nursing Homes (Aug 2008 – present); Volunteer for Maranatha Revitalization Community Services (MRCS) (2009 – 2010); (Member of the) New Jerusalem SDA Youth Choir (Sept 2009 – present); (Member of the New Haven SDA Children’s Choir (1997 – 2004);Tutor (to) my classmates and children in younger grades (2006 – present); Band Member, Clarinet player (2007 – present); Piano Player (1999 – present);Violin Player (2005 – 2006); Soloist (1996 – present);(I also) volunteered with Good News Atlanta, sponsored by Healthy Life Corps., with Dr. Debbie Wallace PH.D (June 2010).
Q: Tell me your feelings about receiving the Gates Scholarship.
A: I was overjoyed! On April 19, at 12.36 pm, my mom called me while I was in English class. After permission from my teacher, I ran to the restroom, answered my phone, and my mom yelled, “CONGRATULATIONS, GATES SCHOLAR!!!!!” I could hardly contain myself. However I couldn’t scream as loud as I wanted to in the girls’ bathroom with two witnesses. I couldn’t believe my ears! I was sooo thankful to God for the blessing He had bestowed upon me through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. When I got home, however, I jumped up and down with my family. I was overjoyed!
A: I wish to express profound gratitude to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for granting me the scholarship; but, first of all, I want to thank God for His continued love and compassion, and for making this possible. I want to thank my parents for their abiding love and the sacrifices they’ve made throughout to provide for me and my siblings; my principal and staff, especially Mr. Floyd my pre-calculus teacher at Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy, who nominated me for this scholarship; my mentor, Dr. Luceta McRoy, who recommended me for this scholarship. She always said that I would be “a cut above the rest.” She often invites me to sing at a nursing home in our neighbourhood.” Dr. Mc Roy developed a Purity program at our church modelling the ‘True Love Waits’ curriculum after I attended a purity program, ‘Revolution Abstinence’ Missing Link small group, at the Church at Chapel Hill. I thank both of them for believing in me, for investing in me, and for taking the time to write a recommendation for this scholarship for me. This was a very long application process, and I thank them”
The Gates Millennium United Negro College Fund is a scholarship fund for minority students, including native Americans, Indians, Asians and Hispanics. Included in the criteria for scholarship are: high academic performance; and leadership skills, and community service.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 14 July 2012 19:11|