Six Sequoyah High seniors named Gates Scholars


Lakin Keener, Nicole Mangels and Rikki Duvall. Back Row: Zane Kee and Tyler Handle. Not pictured: Nathalie Tomasik.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Sequoyah High School produced the second highest number of Native American Gates Scholars in the country, with six seniors this year.

They are Nicole Mangels, of Broken Arrow; Tyler Handle and Nathalie Tomasik, of Tahlequah; Rikki Duvall and Zane Kee, of Stilwell; and Lakin Keener, of Hulbert.

 “It is very rewarding to see Sequoyah students succeed in being selected for the Gates Millennium Scholarship,” said Sequoyah Schools Superintendent Leroy Qualls. “Our students are not just great kids, but great role models for Sequoyah. We’re very proud of our scholars.”

Gabriel M. Bell, coordinator of student services and operations for the American Indian Graduate Center, which helps select the winners, said Sequoyah had the second highest number of scholars for the Class of 2013, with six, among dozens of high schools across the country.  They continually produce among the highest volume of scholars per year.  A high school in Arizona had nine scholars.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awards 1,000 minority students, 150 of which are Native American, each year up to $250,000 in college scholarships per scholar. The scholarship is based on a 3.5 GPA, community service hours, leadership and eight written essays.

“The application process was really grueling,” said Keener, 18. “I spent six months on it. I probably spent two months on one essay alone.”

Tomasik, also 18, said it’s a dream to attend college out of state without having to go into debt.

“When I found the letter, I waited for a little while just staring at it, scared to open it. When I finally read it, I started crying when it all hit me.”

Since 2002, Sequoyah has produced 54 Gates Scholars. This year’s scholars plan to attend the following universities:

  • Mangels plans to join her brother, a 2012 Gates recipient, at the University of Tulsa and major in athletic training.
  • Handle plans to attend the University of Kansas and major in computer science.
  • Duvall plans to attend the University of Tulsa and major in athletic training.
  • Kee plans to attend Oklahoma City University and double major in instrumental music education and chemistry or physics.
  • Keener plans to attend Oklahoma State University and major in design.
  • Tomasik plans to attend the American Music and Dramatic Academy College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts in New York City and major in performing arts.
  • major in performing arts.

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