A Drive to Succeed

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 13, 2017

Students benefit from prestigious scholarship

Ekue Kangni
Ekue Kangni

Ekue Kangni was 8 years old when his parents immigrated to the U.S. from west Africa. He made straight A’s in high school and knew he wanted to pursue higher education, but his path to college, financially speaking, wasn’t as clear.

“My mom, she never went to school, so I taught her how to write, and I taught her English after we moved here in 2003,” he said. “We would practice English together when I got home from school.”

Kangni’s mom, who would braid hair to help support the family, would eventually go on to earn an ESL certificate and open her own beauty shop.

“My parents, my dad and mom, they always want the best for us,” he said. “My parents worked really hard, and I had the drive and the mindset that my parents had.”

That drive and determination helped propel Kangni to become one of eight Kennesaw State University students to receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program is a $1.6 billion initiative funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The goal of the GMS program is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to attend college. Since the program’s inception, Kennesaw State students have received more than $154,000.

“This scholarship is a dream come true because without the scholarship, I feel like my life would probably be harder,” Kangni said. “It makes it easier for me to reach my goals.”

The scholarship is renewable for up to five years in any undergraduate discipline and throughout graduate school to a doctoral degree in any of the these disciplines: computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

According to the GMS program, its students have achieved a six-year graduation rate of more than 90 percent, double the national average of students from similar backgrounds.

Kangni, who expects to graduate in 2019 with a degree in electrical engineering, said he plans to go on and earn a master’s degree and a doctorate.

“My main goal is once I graduate college, my parents should not be working anymore,” he said. “I should be taking care of my parents.”

Other GMS recipients at KSU as of Fall 2016 include:

– Jennifer Hafer

Photo by David Caselli

Related Stories

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.