MINNEAPOLIS -- Students from Patrick Henry High School are getting a free ride in college, then some.
Four Hmong seniors, Mai Moua Vang, Susan Vang, Soua Chang, and Doua Kha have all received the prestigious Gates Millennium scholarship, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates.
"The scholarship that these young women have won, is the very best scholarship in the world," Patrick Henry staffer Tom Murray said. "There's a great sense of pride for these four students and their accomplishments. Sometimes our Hmong parents can't help their kids, because they don't know English."
The scholarship means these students will have four years of room and board paid for, other expenses taken care of, as well as three years of graduate school if they travel that route.
"My dad is very proud of me, he's constantly pushing me," Kha said, who is going to the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. "He's my biggest fan, without him, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, he gives me so much motivation."
Kha's dad wasn't able to pursue school because he was the oldest sibling and had to work instead.
"I wouldn't say that I'm smart, I credit hard work and motivation, family help and support," Kha said. "Anybody can do it, if you try."
Moua grew up in the United States, but her parents don't speak much English. Moua said it wasn't easy learning the language.
"There are some words you can't translate so it's kind of hard," Moua said.
Her stellar resume knocked that barrier down.
"They truly are a success story and an example of what's possible for all of our students at Patrick Henry," Principal Corey Harris said.
Vang has become a killer chess player the past five years. She's also picked up golf. That are only a couple of the numerous extra-curricular activities she's involved with.
"I got more involved in school during my sophomore year to senior year, it's lots of fun and I've learned a lot of things," Vang said.
The girls said that the combination of volunteer work, extra-curricular activities, serious determination and a source of motivation, helped them snag the scholarships.
"We all share something in common, we're all going to leave and pursue our dreams and goals."
Over 20,000 students applied for the Gates Millennium scholarship and only 1,000 were awarded.
In-depth biographies of the scholarship winners can be found on the Patrick Henry High School's website.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)