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Seven Las Vegas Valley high school seniors named Gates Millennium Scholars

The traditional costs of college - tuition, books, fees and housing - do not worry these high school seniors. Their hard work over the past four years has taken care of all that.

The seven students were named Gates Millennium Scholars and will receive full financial assistance through graduation at any college or university.

The program selected 1,000 students this year from more than 24,000 applicants. The program, started in 1999, is funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and targeted toward minority and low-income students.

Those selected from Nevada are: Briana Guillory, Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy; Kendrick Kirk, Arbor View High School; Fernando Rocha, Canyon Springs High School; Daniel Dominguez, Las Vegas Academy; Brittany Davis, Sunrise Mountain High School; and Yared Assefa and Marin Torres, both from Rancho High School.

Guillory said she did not believe the news when she first was told she had received the scholarship.

"It was a normal day coming back from lunch, and my counselor pulled me aside," she said. "I thought it was a joke. Then another counselor came and pulled me out of class. It was so surreal. We started parading around the school. ... I went directly to the bathroom to call my mom."

Guillory played varsity volleyball and basketball and was in the National Honor Society and student council. She also logged numerous hours of community service, as did all the Gates recipients.

Guillory said it was a "long, dreadful" application process, which included writing eight essays.

She plans to attend college at a small school in New York or Maine, then transfer to the University of Oregon to major in marine biology.

Kirk plans to attend Yale University in the fall and study science and engineering. Like many of the other scholars, he said attending college, or at least the one of his choice, may not have been possible without the scholarship.

"We have been really struggling as a family," Kirk said. "My dad lost his job in the recession. This scholarship means a lot to my family. I would have had to fund my education. I couldn't get the free opportunity that some of my friends enjoy. My parents are busy taking care of basic necessities."

Kirk, who has two siblings, said he will be working an internship this summer for Bank of America, which will include mentoring at Boys & Girls Clubs. He said he hopes to be an entrepreneur and found a company in the field of science or engineering.

"I hope to help kids like me," he said, "so they can see the opportunities that I got."

Davis also plans to help younger kids through this opportunity. She plans to major in education at Clark Atlanta University or Spelman College in Atlanta and eventually become a principal.

"Many students don't have someone to encourage them in their lives," Davis said. "I'd like to be there for them."

Dominguez said this scholarship will greatly help him at Stanford University this fall.

"The fact that I don't have to worry about paying ... it's something off my shoulders," he said. "I can truly focus on my education instead of having to worry about paying for it."

For more information about the Gates Millennium Scholars program, visit

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at or 224-5524.