ROSE HILL — After graduating from Union High School, Daisy Almonte is looking forward to continuing her education at Duke University. For the senior, it’s a dream come true.
Daisy was awarded the Benjamin N. Duke Scholarship, an award which covers full tuition, room, board and fees for eight semesters at Duke University. It honors excelling students from North and South Carolina for their academics, community engagement and aspirations to become leaders. Ten freshmen will attend the university in August as B.N. Duke Scholars.
“It’s exciting and I’m still a little shocked,” Daisy said about major accomplishment. “I feel very fortunate.”
Along the way, faculty and staff members at Duke will provide assistance along the way. In addition to support and expenses being covered for eight semesters, Daisy will participate in two summers of community engagement — one in the Carolinas and one anywhere in the world.
According to the program, “B.N. Duke scholars emerge from their experiences at Duke as leaders, problem solvers, and members of an extensive community that spreads across the Carolinas and beyond.”
She was accepting to nine universities or colleges. Some of the others included Davidson College, North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Brown University, an Ivy League institution.
“It’s a really good school that’s here in my home state,” Daisy said about attending Duke University.
Daisy said she would like to major in political science and is also thinking about public policy. After graduation, the native Spanish speaker said she would like to attend law school to study the immigration field.
The Union High School senior is also excited about earning the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a program which offers mentorship and other resources to high-performing minority students. As part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the scholarship provides funding to recipients for up to 10 years of study. The award will cover a bachelor’s degree and graduate degrees in seven areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. More than 50,000 applied, but only 1,000 were selected.
“Daisy is an excellent candidate for these programs carrying an excellent high GPA while enrolled in three advanced placement classes and one community college class this semester,” said Bambi Dove, college adviser and scholars coordinator. “Working hard in class and preserving is Daisy’s top priority. As you can see by her scholarship offers, her hard work has certainly paid off. She is diligent, determined, and driven in all that she does in and outside of school and faculty and staff at Union High School could not be more proud.”
Dove added that Daisy preserved throughout the Gates application process.
“While writing eight essays for one scholarship application is tough, Daisy was enthusiastic about the entire process,” Dove said. “Union High School is excited for Daisy on all of her accomplishments and challenges all students to explore scholarship opportunities early.”
In the middle of going through the process and maintaining a good GPA, Daisy was involved in service and leadership organizations such as the Beta Club and Key Club and participates on Union’s track team. Daisy enjoyed her time at the school which included friendship with peers she’s known since middle school.
“It went by very fast, which I thought was just a myth, when people said high school goes by really fast,” Daisy said. “I enjoyed getting to know everybody. I’ve been able to make strong connections with everyone and all the faculty.
“It’s going to be a big change going to a big school like Duke, but I guess change is always necessary and positive,” Daisy said.
During the process, Daisy received support from Duke College Counselor Jessica Alvarez. From the onset, Alvarez said Daisy was a go-getter when it came to furthering her education.
“She was in my office constantly,” Alvarez said about tasks such as filling out college applications, applying for scholarships and assistance with interviews. “What I really like about her is that she’s the type of person that if you tell her to do something and she’ll actually do it within a timely manner. She’ll complete something before it’s due.”
Alvarez, a Duke alumna, said it’s interesting helping a student with a similar background achieve. She recalled an amusing time when they talked about becoming President of the United States in the future and working in Daisy’s Cabinet, after leaving Union.
“She a great kid and she’s going to do big things in the world,” Alvarez said.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.