LAKE CITY, S.C. – Rebeca Pacheco, a Lake City High School senior, has won the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.
The scholarship, valued at nearly $500,000, provides funding for undergraduate school, graduate school and doctoral studies.
Pacheco received a letter last week notifying her that she was a recipient of the scholarship.
“My brother texted me and said there was a letter,” she said. “I told him to open it and text me a picture of the letter so I could read it. I still can’t believe it.”
Pacheco is the second Lake City High School student to receive the scholarship. Last year, Mikayla Hanna became the first Lake City High student to receive the scholarship and is now studying at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
Pacheco , the daughter of Teodoro Pacheco, said she applied for the scholarship in January. In March, she received notification that she was a finalist. The scholarship was awarded to 1,000 students among the 60,000 applicants from across the country.
Although she has been accepted at all seven colleges to which she applied, Pacheco said, she plans to attend Francis Marion University and major in nursing and then attend the Medical University of South Carolina to become a pediatrician.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I knew I wanted to be a pediatrician,” she said. “I love working with little kids.”
Through her internship in her health science class at Lake City High School, Pacheco has experienced working in a medical environment at Lake City Community Hospital. She also has gained experience working with children as an assistant to a kindergarten teacher at Lake City Early Childhood Center.
“Rebeca is the perfect student,” said Mary Wallace Phillips, Lake City High’s health science teacher. "She is a conscientious student who is always well prepared and gets along well with everyone.”
The Gates Millennium Scholars program is funded through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Pacheco said receiving the Gates Millennium Scholarship is an enormous benefit to her family. Her twin brother, David, also plans to go to college next year as well, with plans to become a physical therapist.
“It would be tough for our parents to pay for both of us to go to college,” she said.