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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

18-year-old girl wins Gates Scholarship to US university, set to become the first graduate in her family

18-year-old Jaylynne Calderon-Monterroso is set to become the first graduate in her family as she wins the prestigious Gates scholarship to study for her bachelors at the University of Notre Dame in the United States.

Jaylynne immigrated to the United States from Guatemala and is one of 750 high school students across the United States that won the prestigious Gates Scholarship covering a full ride to the college of their choice.

The Gates Scholarship is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority high school seniors from low-income households, according to the scholarship website. It covers all educational expenses for four years of college.

She is a senior at Grand Rapids University Preparatory Academy who is also graduating from University Preparatory Academy with a 4.35 grade point average. Jaylynne took at least two college-level classes every year  including Advanced Placement classes at her school and courses at Grand Rapids Community College.

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Jaylynne is the first-ever student at University Preparatory Academy to ever win a Gates Scholarship. She was a very active student both in her academics and extracurricular while in high school.

She served on the Mayor’s Youth Council and National Honor Society (NHS), in addition to being president of the senior executive board and valedictorian at University Preparatory Academy.

To address a rise in mental health issues among students during the pandemic, Jaylynne also helped create a mental health room at University Preparatory. The space serves as a safe area where students and teachers can wind down if they are dealing with mental health challenges.


Jaylynne stated that she noticed the need for a safe space in the school after experiencing her own mental health struggles in her first year. “In ninth grade, I started picking up on how my anxiety was impacting my education and how I interact with people,” she said.

“And then coming back from school after COVID, it was a different environment just talking about it with my friends and other students at school, you could kind of notice the difference,” she added.

Jaylynne mentioned that she is the first ever person in her family to attend the university noting that her parents have always instilled in her the importance of doing well in school. “School has always been a really important factor when it comes to what they want for our future,” she said.

She stated that she also earned acceptance from numerous top schools in the United States including the University of Michigan, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, and Barnard College.

Jaylynne said that she plans to attend the University of Notre Dame to study pre-law and economics. Jaylynne said she chose Notre Dame because of its Latino Studies Scholars Program.


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