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Granger High School graduate wins Gates Millennium scholarship

Published July 26, 2012 11:31 am

Gates Millennium • Granger High graduate Anand Singh wins prestigious academic award.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Anand Singh always has been driven to serve.

When he realized he had been named a 2012 Gates Millennium scholarship recipient, it was one of his first thoughts.

"I want to help other people out," said Singh, of West Valley City. "Once you are in the Gates Millennium program, you are part of this big family. Even after you are done with your college degree, you can come back and help other students."

The scholarship pays for college through graduation and can be used at any school of the recipient's choice.

It is that need to give back to others that makes Singh's accomplishment a success. Singh dug deep, using his writing abilities to demonstrate the change and growth he has undergone to the selecting committee of the scholarship program founded by Bill and Melinda Gates. It was not just ability, but also pivotal influences from family, friends, educators, civic leaders and even adversaries that played a role in helping Singh achieve success.

As a student at Granger High School, he discovered blood donations were on the decline, which spurred his interest in biomedical engineering.

"What I want to do in biomedical engineering is invent new artificial blood that people can use … so we can cure things like anemia and AIDS."

Singh's father's nurturing continued fueling his interest in engineering.

"Sometimes I do odd jobs with my dad," he said. "He really was born to be an engineer. I learned how to build a big pigeon house because he wanted to have pigeons for pets. Our sink was broken and he didn't call for anyone; he was just like, 'Let's fix it.' "

His father piqued Singh's sense of discovery by sharing their heritage through gardening.

"Our ethnicity is Indian Hindu, but my parents and grandparents were from Fiji. They were from the jungle area, so they do their own planting and were very in tune with nature. We will plant flowers — not only flowers but peppers, tomatoes, squash and pumpkins."

High school presented Singh with additional opportunities through community service and leadership roles.

"Owen Jackson, West Valley City public-relations representative, helped me through West Valley Youth Council — to help me understand more about the community, how to help out, how to be a leader and how to strive to be the best in our community," Singh said. "He is just irreplaceable. I've been part of Youth Council through my high-school years. My final year, I was the major of the Youth Valley City Council."

Katherine Gaskins, Singh's counselor, introduced him to the Gates Millennium Scholarship targeted at minority students.

"She had a person who won the scholarship last year come and give their spiel," he said.

It was this encounter and Gaskins' encouragement that guided him to the spotlight.

"I thought, I can really do this. You are going against 20,000 applicants, and you only have 3 percent chance to get the scholarship. This is where the greatest struggle happens. You are writing eight to nine essays. You're basically writing 20 pages about yourself. A lot of people will get started and write five to six pages, but then they will stop. That is where the scholarship people separate the sheep from the good to the bad. They really want to see someone go through that really long process."

In one of these stories, Singh shared a lesson in personal growth. A high-school colleague became his academic nemesis, but during his senior year, the plot turned.

"It was hard for me to establish a healthy friendship with him because I was always competing against him. But then I finally realized that it's not the competing, it's the growing together," he said. "Instead of fighting [him], I could improve myself by learning from what he did."

Life presents many challenges for up-and-coming students.

"When I got into high school, I think the greatest struggles for me [were] keeping that balance between friends and work. There is not really enough time for friends. People would go out and see a movie or just want to hang out every Saturday, but I can't do that," said Singh.

Through it all, his friends understood. They even helped him learn to dance after he asked his crush to prom.

closeup@sltrib.com