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  Norfolk State’s Gates Scholars Graduating

The last of Norfolk State’s Gates Millennium Scholars will graduate May 4. Té Airra M. Brown and Maranda Hall, both will graduate summa cum laude. Brown will receive a bachelor of science in computer science engineering, while Hall will receive a bachelor of arts in English.

Both Hall and Brown have similar views on what it has meant to them to be a Gates Scholar. “The Gates Millennium scholarship has given me much more than academic advancement—it has strongly aided in my personal development,” said Hall. “I now have the power to encourage and motivate young adolescents who feel as if they have done too much to ever be successful, or happy, or loved again—because I was once where they currently are and was still able to turn my life around.”

Said Brown, “As a Gates Scholar, I am testimony that you do not have to be a product of your environment and that you can be successful if you are from an underprivileged area.” Brown said that because of it she will truly live by the motto: “To whom much is given…much is expected.”

Chosen in 2009, Brown and Hall are part of the 10th cohort of Gates Scholars and came to NSU as freshmen. They met while at NSU when they attended a Gates Leadership conference. Hall has studied in Sevilla, Spain. “While there, I realized that there are cultures, values and beliefs other than those that I had become accustomed to in the U.S.,” Hall said. “I have learned to be appreciative. I have shifted toward family-values rather than career success, and I have created a diverse group of friends from differing ethnicities, as well as an interest in foreign affairs and a love for traveling.”

In June, Hall will begin a one-year program at Stanford University to earn her master’s in education and teacher certification. She jokes that her five-year plan is now a 50-year one that involves applying to Oxford University for a doctorate in African American literature or women’s studies and eventually teaching abroad.

Brown will attend Virginia Tech with a fellowship from the Bradley Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. She has plans to earn her doctoral degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis on embeddable systems, exploring how embedded systems can be better implemented within the human body.

While they both are graduating with the highest honors, being Gates Scholars has been more than just an academic experience. They have found a warm and caring environment at NSU where faculty, staff and students are willing to reach out with encouragement. From Brown’s perspective, “Sometimes when I didn’t believe in myself, it was always a Spartan I could turn to for encouraging words or just someone I could talk to for me to realize that I could do it.”


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