UNM-Taos student Kerri Trujillo was recently named the recipient of a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Trujillo, a resident of Taos Pueblo, is in her third semester focusing on a Bachelor of Science degree in laboratory sciences. She is currently the only Gates Millennium scholar at UNM-Taos.

"I started at Creighton University in Omaha," Trujillo said, "then transferred to be closer to home and participate in our traditional activities at Taos Pueblo. But I wanted to balance my college life also, so I started coming to UNM-Taos. I found that the programs here were more approachable, and now I'm almost finished with my bachelor's degree. I eventually want to attend St. Louis University and obtain a public health degree."

Trujillo grew up in Taos and went to public school through the eighth grade before transferring to Santa Fe Indian School.  It was there she learned about the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

"They had a mentoring program that helped us apply," Trujillo said. "It's really a prestigious and competitive scholarship. Only 350 Native American students get it throughout the country, so I feel fortunate to be one of them."

The Gates Millennium Scholarship, with over $700 million in scholarships awarded to date, is renewable for up to five years "in any undergraduate discipline and throughout graduate school to a doctoral degree in any of these disciplines: computer science, engineering, education, library science, mathematics, public health or science," according to a Gates publication.

Asked what advice she would give to aspiring Native American students, Trujillo said, "I'd say pursue your dreams. You'll never know what might have been, if you didn't try."

Story by Bill Knief