GU Welcomes Eight New Act Six Scholars

February 19, 2013

Local Students among 65 Scholars Statewide

Gonzaga News Service 

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga University welcomes eight new Act Six Scholars to join the entering class of 2013. The scholars are among 65 students statewide to receive full college scholarships in the 2013 Act Six class. Chosen through a rigorous three-month competition among more than 700 applicants, these diverse student leaders were chosen by the Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative for their distinctive leadership, academic potential, and commitment to making a difference in their communities.

The emerging urban and community leaders hail from Spokane, the Yakima Valley, the Puget Sound region, and Portland, Ore., and will receive scholarships to Gonzaga and seven other Northwest schools. Gonzaga's newest Act Six scholars, comprising the University's fifth cadre, are: Sandy Barakat, Central Valley High School; Caleb Dawson, Federal Way Senior High School; Kenji Linane-Booey, Shadle Park High School; Aaron McQuerter, Stadium High School; Aubrey Morris, John R. Rogers High School; Olivia Nagozruk, Lewis and Clark High School; Christina Park, Spanaway Lake High School; and Aven Zemo, Foster High School.

Gonzaga's newest Act Six scholars were recognized in a community celebration Feb. 6 in Spokane. Tracy Ellis-Ward, director of Gonzaga's Unity Multicultural Education Center, delivered the benediction at the event. Launched in 2002 by the Northwest Leadership Foundation in Tacoma, Act Six seeks to develop urban and community leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities. Since the program's inception, 45 cohorts of ethnically diverse and mostly first-generation, low-income Act Six scholars from urban Tacoma, Seattle, Portland, Spokane, and the Yakima Valley have enrolled at eight Northwest colleges and universities.

Gonzaga's first class of Act Six scholars will graduate May 12; they are: Ylisse Bess, Jasmine Linane-Booey, Mercedes Hayes, Anna Hester, Rachel Ku, Oscar Marmolejo, Edwin Torres and Thuy-Anh Vo.

To date, 90 percent of the 315 scholars who have started college have graduated or are still enrolled — reflecting graduation and retention rates that far exceed national averages. Three Act Six scholars have been elected as college/university student-body presidents, and scholars have been involved in numerous other leadership roles on campus and in the community. Nearly 85 percent of Act Six alumni have returned to work and serve in their home communities, and 27 percent are pursuing or have earned graduate degrees.

"Act Six is a blessing. Not only do I have the opportunity to pursue a degree in higher education, but now I have the support and the resources to make my dreams come true," says Michaela Brown, a junior scholar with the second cadre of Act Six at Gonzaga. "Act Six is so much greater than me, that at times it's hard to wrap my head around the vision, but all I know is that Act Six has changed my life and I can't wait to start giving back by living the mission."