Hamilton High senior awarded prestigious Gates Scholarship

Valedictorian refuses scholarships from schools across globe ‘to make a better Memphis’
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 4:21 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Graduation season is amongst us, and one Memphis high school senior graduating at the top of her class has decided to keep her talent right here in the Bluff City despite having received scholarships from schools across the globe.

Rachel Bonner has been named Valedictorian for Hamilton High School’s 2023 class.

Bonner recently secured the highly selective Gates Scholarship, which is only awarded to 750 national applicants out of more than 51,000 submissions.

Throughout her four years in high school, Bonner says her path has not been easy. From COVID-19 to family loss and housing inequality, she has persevered and credits most of her motivation to her younger autistic sister, Diane.

Now, Bonner is headed to the University of Memphis with a major in theater “to enrich the performing arts in the Memphis culture,” she says.

“I have a lot of projects I’m working with to fight against youth homelessness, education and equity and development,” Bonner adds. “I’m from Memphis, and I just really want to make a better Memphis, because I know how hard it was to be great in this city, so I want to give back and make sure it’s an easier journey for the next generation.”

Bonner says she’s received over 22 scholarships from schools all around the world but decided to choose a college at home to help make a difference in the community.

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