Freshman Johadane Pierre Receives Gates Millennium Scholarship
MADISON, N.J. (Feb. 15, 2010) — Johadane Pierre, a Fairleigh Dickinson University freshman from Neptune, N.J., has received a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, which provides a grant and academic help for low-income, minority college students.
The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program recognizes academic achievement, community service and leadership potential. Grants cover unmet need for tuition and living expenses and can be renewed annually throughout scholars’ undergraduate studies in any discipline and for graduate studies in certain areas. The program selects 1,000 scholars nationwide each year.
Pierre, a native of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is undertaking a five-year bachelor’s and master’s program in secondary education and French at FDU’s College at Florham. A member of the FDU Devils women’s tennis team, she is active in the Latin American Student Organization and Association of Black Collegians. Pierre has also joined the fledgling student effort at the College at Florham to help Haitians recover from the devastating recent earthquake.
Pierre’s family came to the United States in 2003 when she was 11 years old. With only a basic knowledge of English when she arrived, she graduated six years later from Academy Charter High School in Lake Como, N.J., as valedictorian, compiling a string of honors, including the Dwight D. Eisenhower Leadership Award, National Honor Roll and National Society of High School Scholars.
Pierre was active in Holy Spirit Church of Asbury Park, N.J., teaching English to Haitian and Latino immigrants, volunteering at an after-school program for younger children and as a counselor at the church summer camp, and helping revive the church’s youth group. She enrolled in the College at Florham in fall 2009. Her mother died of cancer in November that year, but Pierre decided to continue her studies. “In school, I’m always busy. It helps me cope with it,” she said.
Pierre credits the Educational Opportunity Fund program at the College at Florham for helping her through her first semester. “The EOF plays a crucial part in my studies here at FDU,” she said. “They helped me find tutors and they offer counseling sessions every week for their students.” (The EOF program is a University- and state-sponsored program that provides financial aid, counseling and tutoring services to low-income New Jersey residents.)
After graduation, Pierre, whose first languages are French and Creole, would like to teach English as a Second Language to secondary school students, preferably at a charter school like the one she attended. “I want to teach ESL because my middle school teacher helped me out with English, and I know how hard it was,” she said. “I think I could use that experience to help other kids.”
The Gates scholarship “makes you want to go far in life,” Pierre said. “My dad told me, ‘A lot of people are investing money in you; you can’t let them down.’ I know that.”
Pierre is the daughter of Joseph Pierre of Neptune, N.J.
About the Gates Millennium Scholars program
The GMS program, established in 1999, was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to promote academic excellence and provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.