Phone: (770) 787-1330 Fax: (770) 784-2950 Email:



 Leslie Ochei
Alcovy High
  Eboni Wimbley, Brandon Hayden, & Gloria Alafe
Newton High


While many of their peers will be taking out student loans to pay for college, four Newton County School System graduates won’t have that worry, as they have each received good –through-graduation scholarships to their colleges of choice thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Alcovy High School senior Leslie Ochei and Newton High School seniors Gloria Alafe, Brandon Hayden, and Eboni Wimbley have each been named a 2014 Gates Millienninum Scholar. Only 1,000 students nationwide have earned this special honor.  Their full-ride scholarships can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at the accredited college or university of their choice.

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program was established in 1999 to 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. Continuing Gates Scholars may request funding for a graduate degree program in one of the following discipline areas: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence by providing thousands of outstanding students, who have significant financial need, the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program also provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support. The Program is known for its recipients’ high graduation rates—a six-year rate of 87 percent (28 percent higher than the national graduation rates for all students from high income families).

In addition to receiving the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Leslie Ochei is also the Alcovy High School Class of 2014’s valedictorian. She plans on majoring in pre-nursing at Georgia State in the fall.

“I want to one day become an emergency room nurse practitioner,” said Ochei. “I like helping people so I think that would be great. I’ve always been fascinated about the body. My aunt used to be a nurse and I have always liked reading her old nursing books. I find it so interesting. One day I’d like to have a part in advancing medical knowledge and leading research.”

During her high school career, Ochei kept very busy in the Latin club, National Honor Society, Newton County Youth Leadership, and also volunteered at Newton Medical.

When she found out she got the full-ride scholarship, she said she was in total shock.

“I’m so grateful that I won this,” said Ochei. “It’s really truly a blessing to have something like this. It’s been one of my dreams to go to college debt-free and not have this weight on me because I want to be a full-time minister also. Knowing that I don’t have these extra debts, it allows me to do so more freely. So they lifted a weight off my shoulders. It’s just a blessing. It’s so surreal to me and I really appreciate the Gates’ doing something like this for me.”

At Newton High School the feeling was much the same, as each of the students expressed their gratitude and relief at the thought of not having to pay for a college education.

“I was really excited and really happy because I got to take such a big burden off my parents,” said Eboni Wimbley, who plans on majoring in communication science and disorders at the University of Georgia. “I’ve been working really hard and I know I made them proud by doing that.”

During her high school career she was involved in many clubs and extra-curricular activities, including DECA, National Honor Society, Key Club, Interact Club, SECME Club, Cheerleading, and Ivy Prep. She also served as a Newton High School RAMbassador. 

Her goal is to become a speech language pathologist.

Brandon Hayden plans to make full use of his Gates Millennium Scholarship by not only majoring in communications at Georgia State but also going on to pursue a doctorate in public health and science. The Gates Millennium Scholarship Program will provide funding for certain discipline areas and public health and science are on that list. The others are computer science, education, engineering, library science, and mathematics.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Hayden. “If I have the opportunity to get a doctorate degree for free, why not? For a career, I wouldn’t want to work on the science side of public health. I would want to go out and talk to people about eating healthy, write proposals, and do things for the community. I love to talk and I want to participate in changing kids’ lives, by encouraging them to eat healthy and stay on the right path.”

Hayden was enrolled in the Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School (ALANHS) and participated in SECME, Interact Club, and the Student Government Association. He was also selected to participate in Governor’s Honors.

“I was really happy when I found out I got the scholarship,” said Hayden. “I’m a twin so my mom would have had to pay double tuition and she is in college right now. So this means so much. It felt good to make her proud and take the weight off of paying for two children at the same time. My mom has worked really hard her whole life and made sure I had everything I needed and wanted. I’m glad I could pay her back by not making her pay for college.”

Gloria Alafe hopes to one day become either a general surgeon or cardiovascular surgeon after college. She plans on beginning her studies by majoring in anthropology and human biology at Emory University.

An ALANHS student, Alafe participated in numerous clubs and organizations during her high school career, including Governors Honors, RAMbassadors, FBLA, Interact, and Rams United. She was also vice president of the Student Government Association, secretary of Key Club, and president of National Honor Society.

Learning that she had won the Gates Scholarship brought tears of joy to the entire family according to Alafe.

“My momma was crying and then I started crying,” said Alafe. “I was so happy. I was surprised because I had no idea I was going to get it. I’m just so honored.”

“This is an extraordinary achievement for Leslie, Gloria, Brandon, and Eboni,” said Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “To be among just a thousand students in the United States to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship is truly outstanding.  It just goes to show that hard work and perseverance matters in school and also brings real rewards. Our goal this year was to be the best and these students exemplify the very best that Newton County Schools has to offer.”

For more information, contact Ms. Sherri Davis-Viniard, Director of Public Relations for Newton County Schools at 770-784-2908.