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Marlow HS Student Receives Rare Scholarship

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MARLOW Okla_ For one Marlow High School senior, college won't cost a dime. Betsy Grace Waller just found out she's one of only 1,000 recipients in the country to receive the Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship.

The prestigious award will cover all four years of schooling plus a Ph. D. or Masters at any school with any major.

Betsy Grace Waller had one goal: graduate from college debt free. She made the decision in 8th grade after seeing her older sister become a finalist for the Gates Scholarship that she would do what ever it takes to get the honor. Four years later, she's got the paperwork to show it.

Betsy had gotten the tip: if you get a letter you didn't get it, if you get a packet, you did.

"I looked in the mailbox, and there was a packet," Waller said. "I was like, ‘That means I got it!!' My mom was just, ‘Open it, open it, open it!'"

It was that moment she knew her dream was about to come true, but before that moment came, there was years of hard work.

She's the youngest in a single parent family, and paying for college takes some doing.

"I just decided I'm going to work my butt off and try to get out of college debt-free," Betsy said.

It's not just that. She wanted to make sure her mom didn't spend one single dime.

"She said, ‘Mommy, you will never have to pay for my college. I will make sure of it,'" Betsy's mom Shelli said.

She kept herself on a schedule, so when the time came to apply for the Gates Scholarship, she'd be ready.

"I figured I would never know if I didn't apply," Betsy said. "It was hard, and there were times where I was like, ‘I don't want to do this', but I made myself, because I knew if I did get it, that it would be really worth it."

Betsy's mom said waiting was the hardest part, but now they know she was selected, they're all smiles.

"It shows what she can do in life," Shelli said. "If she can be this dedicated 14-18, what can she do as an adult as she grows?"

While she can go to any college in the country, she's decided on Oral Roberts to fulfill her dream. She said she's thankful to the Gates Foundation and can't wait to put the money to good use.

"It means the world, because I've always wanted to go to college since I was a little girl," Betsy said. "I was always worried that I wouldn't be able to pay for it. Now, I can afford it, and I'm really thankful."

Waller has received numerous other scholarships but after receiving the Gates Scholarship, her mom said they have plans to give some of those others back to help another student's dream of going to college come true.

Just to give you idea of the competitiveness of this scholarship, there were over 54,000 applicants nationwide. 1,000 were awarded the honor, and 56 of those came from Oklahoma.

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