grade graduation neared for Chicago Heights resident Sofia Salgado, the
thought of going to high school—let alone Marian Catholic High School—was daunting. Sofia, who only learned
English through thirrd grade, came from a dominant Hispanic
background. Both of Sophia’s parents
consider Spanish as their primary language, which made learning both at school
and at home very difficult.
Sofia hasn’t let any of her struggles hold her back from her goals. After enrolling at Marian Catholic in 2009 Sofia has earned a 4.0 in every quarter, become an Illinois State Scholar, scored a 27 on her ACT and has now been offered over 10 awards/scholarships, to name a few.
Of the awards and scholarships presented to Sofia, the Gates Millennium Scholarship is considered by many the most prestigious. This scholarship, funded by Bill & Melinda Gates, offers a good-through-graduation scholarship to 1,000 talented students. With over 52,000 applicants, Sofia had the honor of being named one of the 1,000 recipients. She will take her talents to Northwestern University next year, where she eventually plans to enter the medical field.
The preliminary process was no easy task. Sofia was required to submit eight essays to accompany numerous letters of recommendation that represented her several traits and community involvements. As one could imagine, many faculty members were more than willing to recommend Sofia for this scholarship.
“Sofia is literally the hardest working student I have ever had the pleasure to teach. She has a machine-like work ethic and a laser-like focus. On top of that, she is naturally brilliant,” said newly appointed Marian Principal Steve Tortorello.
Sofia is extremely grateful for the honors she has received and owes a lot to her family. Her parents, grandmother, and godmother have instilled the importance of education.
“It feels really good, knowing how much work I have put in. My goal is to be the first person in my family to receive a college education; not having any costs was a goal, but undreamed-of,” said an emotional Sofia. “I hope to serve as a role model to others.”
The goal of The Gates Millennium Scholarship is to promote academic excellence while providing an opportunity for outstanding minority students to reach their highest potential.
—Submitted by Marian Catholic High School