Cavonte Johnson Named Gates Millenium Scholar
The EHS Senior plans to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall.
EHS Senior Cavonte Johnson "works harder, thinks more deeply, struggles more genuinely" than most other students, according to teacher Martha Cosgrove.
Given an introduction like that, it's no surprise Johnson is the first student in Edina High School's history to become a Gates Millennium Scholar. Johnson, who plans to enroll in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota this fall and walk on to the football team, was announced as one of 10 Gates Millennium Scholars in Minnesota this year.
The scholarship program was established in 1999 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide outstanding, low-income students of color with the opportunity to complete undergraduate degrees. In addition to financial support, Gates Millennium Scholars benefit from leadership development opportunities, mentoring and academic and social support.
“He is a student who values, appreciates and consumes the opportunities that come to him," Cosvrove said. "He brings a commitment and interest in his work uncharacteristic for a young man in high school. I am certain he will use his gifts to support excellence in other people, too."
Sarah Jones, an Edina resident and former school board member whom Johnson has lived with for the past six years, said the honor represents years of "hard work by a lot of people, especially Cavonte."
"His circumstances are unusual, and this scholarship will give him the boost he needs to reach his full potential," Jones said. "He has done everything right, and I am eager to see him succeed."
Sarah and Doug Jones—both nearly 70—offered their home to Cavonte when they realized his living situation was unstable. It perhaps wasn't what the retirement they had initially envisioned, but Jones said it has been beneficial for everyone involved.
"It’s been good for Cavonte, but it’s also been good for us, good for Edina High School, and good for our community," she said.
While attending Edina High School, Cavonte was elected captain of the basketball and track teams and Homecoming King, in addition to participating in Student Council, Sober Squad, Dare2BReal and Teens Encouter Christ.
To qualify for the scholarship, applicants must be a student of color, maintain a GPA of 3.3 or higher and show leadership potential. A total of 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholars were selected this year. The final hurdle included a 22-page application and a total of eight essays.