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Two Buffalo students earn Gates Millennium scholarships

Mike Desmond/WBFO

While Buffalo School Board meetings often devolve into rants, targeting blame for the many troubles inside the city's educational system, Wednesday night's session took a moment to highlight success. Two students have won college scholarships through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program.

Of the 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholars named for 2016, only two are from the Buffalo district: Ameer Dunston of Leonardo da Vinci High School and Lafayette's Doris Noh.

Beyond scholarships, the program aims to provide low-income minority students with "leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support." Over 53,000 students applied to the program this year.

The program was on Dunston's radar. He wanted it to cover the cost of fulfilling his dream of attending Howard University in Washington, D.C.

"At the end of my junior year, I did a lot of research. I mapped out my senior year, I wrote all my essays ahead of time and I was just on the road with deadlines and research and what I really wanted to do," said Dunston, who is this year's valedictorian at da Vinci.

The scholarship program began in 1999 with a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

During Wednesday's ceremony, Noh related how her "parents had to work so hard in a refugee camp in Thailand" before they could dream of their daughter's success. Now was recently featured in a WBFO story about her award.

"My parents are my motivation," Noh told those attending the school board session.

"The reason my family came to the U.S. was for education and opportunity. My parents didn't have the opportunity to go to school like I do now."


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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