The path to college and beyond just got a little easier for three county high school students who have won prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarships that will pay the bulk of expenses for the students for undergraduate, graduate school, and post-graduate education, as well as related costs.

North County High School students Cierra Carter and Fatima Tahir and Old Mill High School student Mekaila Murray each claimed one of the 1,000 scholarships awarded across the nation annually by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The trio makes up nearly one-fourth of the 13 scholarships awarded to Maryland students this year.

Prior to this year, just two Anne Arundel County Public Schools students – Maya Mundell of Northeast High School in 2010 and Trevor Queen of Annapolis High School last year – had won the scholarships.

“This is just another example of the incredible students we have in our school system,” Superintendent Kevin Maxwell said. “It also speaks clearly to the results that can be achieved when children, parents, teachers, counselors, other school system employees, and community partners resolve to make great things happen.”

The scholarships can be used to pursue degrees in any undergraduate major at any accredited college or university. Continuing Gates Scholars can also request funding for a graduate degree program in certain areas of study.

The goal of the Gates Milliennium Scholars Program program is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential by:

● Increasing the representation of these target groups of students in the disciplines of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health, and the sciences; and

● Providing seamless support from undergraduate through doctoral programs.

Fatima will attend the University of Maryland Baltimore County in the fall. She plans to major in molecular biology and biochemistry, and to become a pediatrician.

Cierra, a student in North County’s AVID program, will attend Liberty University and plans to major in journalism and global studies.

Mekaila, a student in Old Mill’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, will attend Texas Christian University in the fall. She plans to major in political science and Spanish.

For more information on the Gates Millennium Scholars, visit