Scholarship proves Davidson student is 1 in a thousand

Bridgette Thompkins-Phillips always knew that her son, Stewart Zellars, was going to go to college.

That didn't keep her from shedding tears of joy April 16 when she found out he was one of 1,000 students in the nation to be selected as a 2009 Gates Millennium Scholar.

"I said, 'Who is more deserving than him,' " she said. "He has worked hard and has always done what was asked of him in school and at home."

After opening the UPS package announcing the selection, she went to John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, where Mr. Zellars is a senior, to let him know.

"I was in the school's library when I was called to the office. When I got there, I saw her crying. I didn't know what was going on so I was freaking out. I was like, 'Who got hurt and why are you crying?' " he said. "As soon as she showed me what was in the box, I couldn't believe it. It was incredible."

The scholarship, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides money for minority students to attend any accredited college or university of their choice.

Students who pursue graduate studies in computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science might have their studies funded through the master's and doctoral levels.

More than 20,000 students had applied.

Mr. Zellars, 18, has a 3.6 grade-point average. He plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall with the intention of going into premedicine and majoring in biochemistry or international affairs, he said.

He wants to become a neurosurgeon.

"I'm not the perfect student, but she has stayed on me," he said of his mother. "My freshman and sophomore years, I was cool with getting B's. After my sophomore year, though, I knew that medical students and premed students aren't going for B's. They are going for A's.

"So I knew then what I had to do. I had to study harder and push myself."

Mr. Zellars has been involved in activities in the community that influenced his field choice and his desire to give back.

He is a co-president of the Augusta Red Cross Youth Board; has volunteered at Golden Harvest Food Bank and Gracewood State Hospital; and has participated in a youth leadership program organized by Steven Kendrick.

"Before I joined the (Red Cross board), I wanted to become an architect," he said. "By working with the board, I learned that I enjoy helping people. I love the idea of doing good just to do good. I believe that the life you live is not your own."

The scholarship will help Mr. Zellars achieve his goals, his mother said.

"We've never worried about whether or not he was going to go to college. We always knew he was," she said. "But this scholarship is a relief because I know what he wants to do and I know it's going to take him a long time in school for it.

"It's a blessing to know it's all taken care of."

To obtain more information about the Gates Millennium Scholar Program, log on to www.gmsp.org.

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (35) Add comment
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jajo1012
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jajo1012 04/30/09 - 12:25 am
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good job, stew.

good job, stew.

HotFoot
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HotFoot 04/30/09 - 04:15 am
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Congratulations, Stewart!

Congratulations, Stewart! You've made everyone at Davidson very proud!

2tired2argueanymore
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2tired2argueanymore 04/30/09 - 07:13 am
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Way to go Stewart! Another

Way to go Stewart! Another YLRC member done Good.

Edward B. Turner
69
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Edward B. Turner 04/30/09 - 08:31 am
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A GREAT story! Stewart's mom

A GREAT story! Stewart's mom is obviously another local hero. Congratulations to both!

whyaskwhy
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whyaskwhy 04/30/09 - 09:04 am
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What a wonderful Mothers' day

What a wonderful Mothers' day gift. Hard work pays off. May God continue to bless both of you.

jlhs32
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jlhs32 04/30/09 - 12:00 pm
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Congratulations!!!

Congratulations!!!

HillGuy
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HillGuy 04/30/09 - 12:56 pm
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I'm sure he is a fine

I'm sure he is a fine student, but I am not in favor of scholarships that discriminate on the basis of race.

plzgetalife
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plzgetalife 04/30/09 - 02:21 pm
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Congrats young man!!!!

Congrats young man!!!!

GeorgiaGirl
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GeorgiaGirl 04/30/09 - 02:42 pm
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Not to take anything away

Not to take anything away from this young man's accomplishments but why was he the only one that was profiled? If you look at the scholarship website and their press release you will see that 3 other area students were also awarded a scholarship - one from Burke Cty HS, one from Greenbrier and one from Westside. Where do they rate? Will the AC be doing a story on them as well? Probably not. Davidson seems to always get the positive attention. They use the other schools as fodder for the negative stories. Why is that?

pinkdymondiva
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pinkdymondiva 04/30/09 - 04:58 pm
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Great job, young man.

Great job, young man. Congratulations are in order. When it comes to young black men the focus is always on the negative and not the positive. Job well done.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 04/30/09 - 05:13 pm
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Stewart Zellars is a fine

Stewart Zellars is a fine young man. If this scholarship is only available for minorities, then I'm glad he won it, from what I have heard from his classmates, he deserves it. It is a privately funded scholarship, if I understand correctly, so they can choose the parameters they want. God bless him and I hope this is the stepping stone for a bright, happy and productive future. I'll be praying for his continued success. Georgia Girl, it may be that someone from the school notified the paper, so maybe your comment will spur the paper to follow-up with stories on the others. I'm sure our community would love to hear more positive stories like this.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 04/30/09 - 05:26 pm
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Go buy this young man a car.

Go buy this young man a car. He deserves it.

voiceofconcern
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voiceofconcern 04/30/09 - 09:12 pm
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Very impressive young man

Very impressive young man from a very impressive family. There's also another fine profile about him in Augusta's Metro Courier Newspaper. Mr. Zellars is an Augusta diamond who will reach the stars, and soon. GREAT STORY, AC.

Rozzie2003
5
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Rozzie2003 04/30/09 - 09:38 pm
0
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Congratulations

Congratulations Stewart---wish you the best at UGA.

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 04/30/09 - 11:53 pm
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Excellent young man with many

Excellent young man with many positive and caring qualities and therefore very well earned and deserved. Congratulations Stewart, May God continue to bless you and your family as you will be blessing others in the near future with your tallented skills as a neurosurgeon.

Anna2008
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Anna2008 05/01/09 - 06:58 am
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One more sign that magnet

One more sign that magnet schools work. I am proud of you. Good luck in your future. Now, why don't we have examples like that from the other high schools in our area??? Simply because the kids/parents/educators and all do not put any effort.
I am a proud parent who has two children in DFA and I feel blessed. But I am the one pushing my children to perform and teach them that hard work gets rewarded.

Rose
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Rose 05/01/09 - 09:31 am
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Good for him. Congratulations

Good for him. Congratulations young man. You can be anything you want to be.

Lynn Reese
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Lynn Reese 05/01/09 - 10:24 am
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Stewart is an amazing young

Stewart is an amazing young man. I have been his youth director at the Red Cross for the past 4 years and worked closely with him on numerous community projects. He is extremely intelligent, hard-working, caring and focused, and he always makes time to give to others. I am so proud of you Stewart!

jusanote
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jusanote 05/01/09 - 12:34 pm
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Hillguy, You don't have to

Hillguy, You don't have to approve of scholarships based on race and with a GPA 3.6 GPA this student has certainly earned this scholarship no matter what color he is. He certainly was not handed anything he worked hard and earned this scholarship. Why is it that everytime a young black man does something positive someone always has something to say about how he got it? I am extremely proud of this young man. Not every scholar has the available resources to pursue their dreams but if they work hard enough i think it is wonderful when that talent gets encouraged and rewarded.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 05/01/09 - 04:59 pm
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How many other students at

How many other students at Davidson have a GPA of 3.6 or above? How many of them are getting featured in the newspaper and getting a scholarship from Bill Gates? How about simply reward students for their hard work and not tie it to what race they belong to?

FallingLeaves
27
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FallingLeaves 05/01/09 - 08:35 pm
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Don't worry, they will be.

Don't worry, they will be.

Go_AJC
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Go_AJC 05/02/09 - 01:03 pm
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Stewart is a classmate of

Stewart is a classmate of mine, and we once had the conversation about what we would do with a billion dollars. I said something along the lines, "I don't know, buy a bunch of cars or something," and he responded, "Buy my mom a house, and send all of my classmates here at Davidson to school for free." We are all estatic for Stewart here at DFA, but we know he has done more volunteer hours and community service activities then 2/3's of our class combined. But he doesn't do it for the recognition or for the local "prestige." He's just a good guy. Good people deserve things, and given his economic situation, Stew has prospered. So, "Hillguy" I'm sorry you feel that way about the scholarship, but the bitterness you are conveying via your posts is embarrasing. Can you just be happy to see a fellow Augustan do well? I'm white, and I'm sure you are too, but I'm happy for him. Most of the kids in GA who do well recieve hope if they attend public universities, if they attend private universities either they can afford it, or recieve a lot of financial aid from theire respective schools. Good kids and students are rewarded-not just minorities. Do some research before you comment.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 05/02/09 - 02:39 pm
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This is a raced based

This is a raced based scholarship, pure and simple. Imagine if there was a scholarship only awarded to white students? There would be outrage.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 05/02/09 - 04:46 pm
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I understand your concern

I understand your concern HillGuy, but if it's a private scholarship, they can make the parameters what they want. They can pick only descendants of Civil War Veterans or descendants of those who died at Wounded Knee, (if there are any), and descendants of those who can trace their lineage back to the American Revolution or the Mayflower Madame, for all we know. They can pick employees' children of specific companies. They can give them to just divorced moms with children. They can give them to married women without children. They can pick people of a particular race to choose from. I'm not enough of my minority race (i.e., not able to document that lineage) to to try to qualify for a race based scholarship, but if I was, I would apply for it, if I needed it and qualified for it. If I didn't need it, I'd be glad for it to go to someone else that does. This young man is a good person, has done a great job in school, he goes above and beyond, and thinks of others besides himself. He is someone that lifts people up. I am glad that he got the scholarship. Maybe one day race won't be a factor in scholarships, but while it is, I hope the judges pick people of his character.

Againstallodds
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Againstallodds 05/02/09 - 04:52 pm
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What a great honor. Keep up

What a great honor. Keep up the good work!

HillGuy
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HillGuy 05/02/09 - 05:14 pm
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Just imagine the uproar over

Just imagine the uproar over a scholarship that said Blacks or hispanics were ineligible to apply. Excluding people based on their race is racist. Gates can indeed set whatever conditions he wants for his scholarship, but I would imagine if this was a "whites only" scholarship, many colleges would probably not accept it.

Go_AJC
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Go_AJC 05/02/09 - 05:17 pm
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There's really no need to try

There's really no need to try and explain things to people like Hillguy. The scholarship is not given to ever single black, hispanic, or asian person in America. Only 1,000 out of the 20,000 who apply, and the millions in the U.S. Therefore the people who have the honor of recieving it have to have done something special. You're (Hillguy) coming off as a complete idiot.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 05/02/09 - 05:35 pm
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This scholarship excludes an

This scholarship excludes an entire group of people based on their race.. is that not racist? You can continue to dodge the question all you want and go straight into your ad hominem attacks. Apparantly you cannot refute the point that this is a race based scholarship, or more specifically one that excudes a particular race. No one is arguing that this young man is not a scholar and not deserving of a scholarship, how many of his white peers at Davidson with GPAs of 3.6 or above were able to apply for this scholarship? None.

jajo1012
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jajo1012 05/03/09 - 09:44 pm
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HillGuy is just upset because

HillGuy is just upset because he wasn't born black, or a woman, or gay, or poor. He lives a boring and dissatisfying life in a big conservative bubble, and because he has never had to face a challenge in his life, he chooses to hate others who are PRIVILEGED to be DIFFERENT. And hey, FYI: the scholarship IS based on race and MINORITIES. if you are upset about this, then go and apply for one of the other 2 million scholarships available. -Sincerely, the other, better, tolerant white guy from the hill.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 05/03/09 - 10:33 pm
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So basically you are saying

So basically you are saying someone who finds racial exclusion and discrimination as wrong, then they are a "hater?"
What a twisted world you live in.

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