Senior Bernardo Guerra Jr. has received a Gates Millennium Scholarship for 2016. He is a piano student with Dr. Mary Grace Carroll. (The Magnet Tribune: Olga Ozornia)
Senior Bernardo Guerra Jr. has received a Gates Millennium Scholarship for 2016. He is a piano student with Dr. Mary Grace Carroll.

The Magnet Tribune: Olga Ozornia

Piano student receives Gates Millennium Scholarship

May 6, 2016

Bernardo Guerra Jr. felt a “big weight off his shoulders” when he found out he received the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

“This scholarship is going to pay my college tuition for four years, and I don’t have to worry about any of the financial part of college. I’ll just worry about school, about studying and trying to pass my classes, trying to do well in my classes, so I don’t have to worry about any other types of scholarships or finding a way to pay for my tuition because this scholarship has blessed me,” Guerra, a piano student who also attends J.W. Nixon High School, said.

He described the scholarship to people who don’t know anything about it.

“It’s difficult, but it’s well worth the headache. It’s a challenge because the topics they give you are topics you need to think about but it’s worth it at the end when you receive that package and you received that scholarship. You feel really good about yourself, and you feel proud about yourself because this year the letter said there were 53,000 applicants that applied for that scholarship and they only chose 1,000 in the entire country. Once you see those numbers, and you’re one of those one thousand people in the whole country you feel really accomplished and proud about your work,” Guerra said.

Checking his Facebook account he came across people receiving notification of their scholarships through the mail.

The letter said there were 53,000 applicants that applied for that scholarship and they only chose 1,000 in the entire country. Once you see those numbers, and you’re one of those one thousand people in the whole country you feel really accomplished.”

— Bernardo Guerra Jr.

“After school. I’m on this group on Facebook, and they have eight Millennium scholars. They were posting that people were receiving their mail, and getting their acceptance letters. They were posting whether they were getting their scholarship or not getting their scholarship. There’s people all over the country, so there’s people from Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and there were people from Texas that were getting it,” Guerra said.

“So, oh my gosh, the mail’s in Texas, somewhere in Texas, and then there were three people in El Paso who said they got it. Later on, this guy in Mission said he got it. I say, oh my gosh, it’s the Valley. That means it has to pass by Lare do. Then another guy from Rio Grande (City), he said he got it too, so I said, ‘yeah, it’s in Laredo.’ So, it was towards the end of the day here, at school, so I rushed home and I was excited and nervous, and I don’t know, I felt a lot of emotions. I got the key to the mailbox and I saw a bunch of mail. Then I saw the packet. If you got a big packet that means you got the scholarship. If you got a small envelope that means you didn’t get the scholarship. So, when I saw the big packet I was amazed and I was shocked,” Guerra added.

Teacher helped with application

The Magnet Tribune: Olga Ozornia

Piano student Bernardo Guerra Jr. poses in the VMT piano lab. He received a Gates Millennium Scholarship recently.

Teacher helped with application

He explained how he felt after he found out he received the Gates Millennium Scholarship.

“Words cannot describe how I reacted, how I felt. I felt speechless. I didn’t know how to react. I was really, really excited and I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think I was going to get it, but I did,” Guerra said.

Guerra explained how his parents reacted when they found out.

“They were really proud of me. They were really, really proud of me. Honestly, they didn’t know what to say, either. They were really happy, proud of me for my accomplishments I’ve done this school year, and this just made them more proud of what I’ve done,” he said.

Guerra told how his fine art teacher Dr. Mary Grace Carroll helped him to apply for the scholarship.

“The way she helped me out is that I had to ask for a recommender and a nominator, and Dr. Carroll knows me the best, and I asked her to be a recommender. She had to write a couple of essays about me, and that’s how she helped me out. Not only did she do that favor for me, but she also helped me with some essays I had to write for the scholarship,” he said.

Part of the applying process was to write eight essays for the scholarships.

“Yes. I had to write eight essays. Most of the essays were about leadership experiences. Basically for that scholarship they just want to know your story, where you come from, how you came about, and what you’ve done in your life. They want to know your struggles, and the good things you’ve done. And the community, your academics, and your extracurricular (activities). Most importantly they want to know if you have leadership skills and if you’ve had leadership experiences,” Guerra said.

He explained his experience and what he tries to do as a leader.

“I think I do. I try my best to be a leader. To set an example for other people. I try to do as much as I can on my own, so I can motivate other people to better themselves. So they know they have to be smart to achieve something, or you don’t have to come from a wealthy family to achieve something, and you don’t have to have a wealthy family or be really smart as long as you try your best and motivate yourself to do something and to achieve whatever goals you have it will be good,” Guerra said.

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