There once was an intelligent, ambitious 10th-grader who was so certain she wanted to attend Penn State that her family relocated from sunny Miami to suburban Philadelphia so she could live closer to the college of her dreams.
Four years later, Ewinka Romulus is living her dream at Penn State Abington and, courtesy of philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, without the expenses normally associated with higher education.
As a Gates Millennium Scholar, 100 percent of her tuition, books and living expenses are covered for up to 10 years of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral studies. Each year, the Gates scholarship is awarded to only 1,000 high school seniors nationwide, which puts her in some rarified company.
Romulus, a second-year science major, credits her mother’s resolve and the support of the Abington community with helping achieve her goals.
“I love Penn State Abington because everyone is really friendly and the classes are small. The professors work with you. They are patient and willing to meet with you outside of class,” she said with a confident smile.
Student Government Association (SGA) President Fallyn Maleski has reached out to Romulus as well.
“Fallyn suggested the double-major option, and I am seriously considering adding math to my science studies,” she said. “I love a challenge.”
An aspiring pediatrician, Romulus smiled proudly when she talked about her mother’s influence.
“When I was young, I didn’t understand why my mother pushed me so much. I had very little homework so my mother insisted that I read,” she said. “I realize now that reading has made me a better student and a better writer.”
Although busy with her studies, Romulus is actively involved in campus life. She is the research and development chair of the Lares Entertainment and Programming board and a member of the SGA, where she hopes to eventually occupy her friend Fallyn’s position as president.
Probably the most unusual thing that Romulus loves about Abington is the breeze. According to the Haitian-born, Florida-raised student, the wind that ruffles the trees at Abington makes her think of the tropics.
“It reminds me of the cool island breeze,” Romulus said laughing.
The Gates program was created to reduce financial barriers for outstanding minority students who demonstrate leadership promise; to increase their representation in computer science, education, engineering, library science, math, public health and sciences careers; to develop a diversified cadre of future leaders by facilitating successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; and to provide seamless support for recipients in undergraduate through doctoral programs.
For more information on the Gates Millennium Scholars, go to http://www.gmsp.org/ online.