Bioscience High School students receive $250,000 scholarships

(Alexis Macklin/DD)
Bioscience High School students Elizabeth Palos, Gerardo Calderon and Jennifer Price-Smith each received a $250,000 scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Alexis Macklin/DD)

Three Bioscience High School students recently received $250,000 Gates Millennium Scholarships from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The scholars program provides academic opportunities to remarkable minority students with financial need like Jennifer Price-Smith, Gerardo Calderon and Elizabeth Palos.

“To have three of our students receive this scholarship is insane,” Bioscience guidance counselor Joyce Laffel said. “We are so proud of them.”

Price-Smith was born in China and was adopted by American parents as a baby. She is currently the president and founder of the National Chinese Honor Society at Bioscience. She is also involved in student government and the National Honor Society, among other clubs at school.

“I like finding problems and fixing them,” she said.

Price-Smith also participated in a medical mentorship program through the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Phoenix. During that time she was mentored by a second-year medical student, Anchit Mehrotra, and received an inside view of what medical school at the university is like.

“She is a determined student with an incredible work ethic,” Mehrotra said.

Price-Smith also volunteered for Dignity Health, volunteered at a gymnastics facility, and had internships with a naturopath and an acupuncturist.

She plans on attending the University of California, San Diego and pursuing a career in medicine.

Palos will be the first of her family to go college. She plans on furthering her education as a Sun Devil by entering Barrett, The Honors College in the fall and majoring in nursing.

Palos currently participates in numerous clubs at Bioscience and is a member of student government as well as president of Green Shovel Club, an environmental conservation club.

Besides working, going to school and taking college credit courses at Phoenix College, Palos also participated in an unpaid internship at ASU researching evolutionary theory on beetles and grasshoppers, volunteered at the Maricopa Integrated Health System Hospital and volunteered at a daycare center working with infants.

Palos excelled academically, despite her busy schedule.

“I realized that I wasn’t going to get any sleep, and then I prioritized my activities,” Palos said.

Calderon is also very involved in his school and the community.

He is president of the UNICEF club and is involved in fitness club and the National Honor Society at Bioscience.

Calderon participates in Tomorrow’s Involved Leaders Today, a community leadership program, and has logged over 1,000 volunteer hours at the Arizona State Veterans Home.

“I just love giving back to my community,” Calderon said.

Calderon interned under a heart surgeon at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center and wants to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon.

He will begin his undergraduate studies this fall at ASU.

All three students demonstrate the characteristics the Gates Foundation looks for, including leadership, a rigorous courseload and community service, said Kelley Reed, an outreach coordinator for the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program.

“We look for students who give back and extend Bill Gates’ legacy,” Reed said.

The students are three of 1,000 who earned the scholarship. The Gates Foundation said about 54,000 students across the country applied for the scholarship.

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