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Shaylah McQueen ’16

Posted: December 5, 2012

Wilson’s first Gates Millennium Scholar, Shaylah McQueen ’16 decided to enroll in the Women with Children Program with her two-year-old son, Zaccaeus, after hearing about Wilson College from a high school social worker.

“I chose Wilson because it was closest to my hometown, and I fell in love with the campus when I visited for my Women with Children interview,” said McQueen, who is from New Haven, Conn.

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program, established in 1999 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is open to high school seniors who have a grade-point average of 3.3. The program selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a “good-through-graduation” scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. McQueen was recommended for the scholarship during her junior year of high school.

Despite the challenge of becoming a mother while still in high school, McQueen excelled academically and was ranked first in her graduating class, earning her the honor of valedictorian. Throughout high school, she was very active as a community service volunteer, tutor, actor and softball player. She founded the James Hillhouse Attendance Buddies Program, which mentors students with poor attendance records.

“I had a great support network,” McQueen said. “Most importantly though, my faith gave me the hope that I could overcome my obstacles.”

McQueen, whose son lives with her on campus, finds the Wilson community very accommodating for her and her son. “The staff here really wants to help and encourage,” she said. “They believe in us just as much as we believe in ourselves. Many professors allow us to take our children with us (to class), if necessary and appropriate.”

McQueen often ponders how her son's future will be affected by his experience living at Wilson for four years. “He adjusted to life here faster than I did,” McQueen said. “He continues to impress me every day. He is learning how to speak like a respectable person.”

McQueen plans on pursuing a major in education with a concentration in Spanish. She also plans to minor in business management and dance. When she graduates from Wilson, McQueen would like to attend a graduate school.

“I plan to become a teacher and teach in my hometown,” said McQueen. “Eventually, I would like to hold workshops where I would give motivational speeches.”

The GMS program, which is administered through the United Negro College Fund, was created with the goal of developing Leaders for America’s Future™. Scholarships provide outstanding low-income African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with an opportunity to complete an undergraduate college education in any discipline they choose.

To date, more than 16,000 students have received GMS scholarships, attending more than 1,500 schools, including Ivy League colleges, flagship state universities, UNCF-member institutions and other minority-serving institutions.

Last Updated: January 18, 2013