Cameron Haney is a soft-spoken young man whose intellect, determination and self-discipline have propelled him to the upper echelons of high school academic achievement.
Haney, a senior at Pine Bluff High School, was recently selected as one of 1,000 students in the United States to be a Class of 2013 Gates Millennium Scholar.
As a Gates Scholar, Haney will be able to attend the United States college or university of his choice for the duration of his undergraduate studies with all expenses paid by the GMS Program.
“Shock; complete shock,” Haney said of his reaction to the news that he had been awarded the scholarship. “The notification came in the mail, but my mom got to it before I could, and she called me on the phone with the news as soon as she opened the letter.”
Anessa Haney, a neuroscientist at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, is justifiably proud of her son’s accomplishment.
“He’s always been good at school,” Anessa Haney said. “It’s a blessing. There were 54,000 people who applied for the scholarship and only 1,000 who got one, so I am very proud of him.”
Cameron Haney said that the application process was fairly extensive.
“I had to write eight essays,” Haney said. “The topics included my strongest subject in school, how I am a leader in my community and my school and my biggest weakness.”
“If you don’t know what your weakness is, you can’t live up to your fullest potential,” Haney said in answer to the question of whether it was difficult to write about weaknesses.
Haney said that the scholarship does have stipulations that must be met.
“This is a renewable scholarship based on the GMS Program guidelines,” Haney’s acceptance letter said in part. “The documents you will submit throughout your undergraduate career will guide GMS’ review and determination of a new scholarship amount for each year you are eligible.”
When it comes to which school he hopes to attend, Haney has a couple of front-runners in mind.
“I’m looking at Louisiana State University and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville,” Haney said.
Haney’s career path is wide open at present with several possibilities under consideration.
“I’m thinking about possibly being a doctor or an engineer or maybe a lawyer or an architect,” Haney said.
Haney has been involved in several extracurricular activities while attending PBHS.
“I’m a member of the Art Club, the National Honor Society and the yearbook staff,” Haney said. “I designed the cover of the yearbook and also took photographs for it.”
Haney is a member of St. James United Methodist Church.
“I’m a member of the Praise Team at church,” Haney said. “It’s step dancing. Our pastor Rev. [Hank] Wilkins wrote one of my recommendations.”
Haney plans to be a force for good.
“Hopefully, this scholarship will help me reach the point that I can give back to my community,” Haney said. “I would like to come back to Pine Bluff and help other kids achieve equal if not greater things.”
Haney said that PBHS art teacher Virginia Hymes pushed him toward success.
“She’s been on me since 10th grade,” Haney said, laughing. “It was Ms. Hymes who told me about the scholarship.”
Anessa Haney said that her other son, 6-year-old Jordan Rasberry, is following in his older brother’s footsteps.
“He’s a straight-A student in the first grade,” Anessa Haney said with a smile. “I have always stressed the importance of an education to Cameron and now to Jordan. If they need help with their homework, I’m there to do so.”
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is administered by the United Negro College Fund, was established in 1999 and is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The GMS Program provides recipients with leadership development opportunities, mentoring, academic and social support in addition to financial support.
The GMS Program is intended to remove barriers to education for high-performing low-income students, according to a press release.
“They are going to have a Freshmen Leadership Conference for all 1,000 scholarship recipients before we begin our academic programs,” Cameron Haney said.