COLUMBIA — It’s a Thursday afternoon at Hickman High School and track practice is about to begin. The athletes are sitting in a commons area while their coaches are busy handing out medals from Tuesday’s track meet. Most students are talking, not paying much attention the quasi awards ceremony. However, Bianca Aaron, a jumper and middle distance runner for the Kewpies, seems intent on supporting her teammates as she claps and cheers for every single medal that is given out.
“That is such a great picture of who Bianca is,” Hickman coach Luke Neal said. “Bianca is a team leader.”
As the track team begins warming up, Aaron is at the front of the line as the team does stretching exercises. Several teamates seem more focused on their conversations with each other, and they exercise without much enthusiasm. Aaron is a little more focused, she is quiet and not exactly gung-ho, but she does every exercise precisely as the coaches instruct. Neal says that this attitude of never slacking off is the norm for Aaron.
“Sometimes she will be late getting to practice because of meetings with other school organizations, but she will always stay and finish her workout even if everyone else has left,” Neal said.
Aaron’s work ethic for track is the same for her schoolwork.
Aaron is the president of her senior class and is involved in enough student organizations to make even the most exclusive universities do a double-take when they see her application. National Honor Society, MAC scholars, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Mu Alpha Theta (a mathematics honor society), Bridges and the prom-planning committee are all part of Aaron’s high school resume. Aaron has also volunteered at the Adult Day Connection where her mother, Roshawn Aaron, works. Bianca Aaron says that she loves being involved, but it can be hard on her at times.
“Sometimes I feel pulled in all directions,” Bianca Aaron said.
One of the major highlights of Bianca Aaron’s semester came when she received a letter informing her she had been awarded the prestigious Bill Gates Scholarship.
Out of about 13,000 applicants, the Bill Gates scholarship is awarded to only 1,000 high-school seniors per year. The scholarship pays for tuition and room and board for the recipient’s entire college career, even through graduate school. Gates scholars can also attend school at any university in the U.S. Recipients must be part of a minority group and show exceptional leadership and academic skill.
The application process itself can be demanding, consisting of seven essays to determine the applicant’s involvement in volunteer and student organizations. Bianca Aaron says she was confident she would be one of the lucky 1,000.
“I claimed it,” Bianca Aaron said, “I told my parents not to worry about paying for school or anything because I just knew I would get the scholarship.”
Bianca Aaron plans to use her scholarship here in Columbia. After debating whether to go to MU or Northwestern Univeristy, Bianca Aaron has decided to attend MU and major in journalism and psychology, and minor in Spanish. Bianca Aaron said that she is hoping college will give her a chance to relax a little, but she does not regret being so involved in high school.
“This semester has been exhausting…,” Bianca Aaron said. “Exhausting, but exciting!”