Gates scholar selected to attend conference

Aug. 12, 2011

The Lab's TeAirra Brown meets with Microsoft founder Bill Gates in July. (Download Image)

Gates scholar selected to attend conference

Linda A Lucchetti,, 925-422-5815

It's not every day a Lab intern gets to meet a famous billionaire and philanthropist.  But, Computation summer student TeAirra Brown recently did just that.

Brown was one of five Gates Millennium Scholars  selected to attend a reception with scholar program and Microsoft founder Bill Gates following his presentation about jobs of the future at the National Urban League Conference in Boston in July. The students also were interviewed by Ebony magazine.

"It was such an honor to be one of the five students selected to attend the conference," she said. 

"I couldn't believe I was really meeting Bill Gates," she said, adding that she has great admiration for Gates who stepped down from the leadership role in his company to concentrate on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Brown, who will be a junior this fall at Norfolk State University in Virginia, is studying computer science and engineering.

"I always have been interested in computers, programming and taking things apart," she said.

Norfolk State University is a mere 10 minutes from her home in Portsmouth, Va. "I chose a school close to home because I wanted to be a role model in my community," she said.

She was selected to receive the Gates scholarship while still in high school. Competition was tough, with more than 50,000 applications. The selection process involved writing several essays.

"I feel really lucky -- very blessed," she said.

Brown's scholarship will cover her educational expenses for up to 10 years and through the acquisition of a Ph.D. should she choose to pursue one. In addition, she is not limited to the choice of colleges and universities. As a matter of fact, she has her eye on M.I.T. and plans to visit in the fall.

About coming to LLNL this summer, Brown said she heard about internship opportunities at the Lab through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "I find that Lab personnel are very willing to teach me and being here allows me to grow in my field." 

This summer, she is working with Computation's John Consolati to develop a database-driven Web 2.0 application for LLNL's Synthetic Minor Operating Permit (SMOP) activities, as part of the Environmental Restoration and Modeling Support group efforts.

As a Lab intern, Brown has been enjoying the wide array of activities offered, from seminars (she has made it a point to attend at least one per week) to the annual weekend rafting trip organized for summer students by Barry Goldman, manager of Undergraduate and Graduate Internship programs. And, she has found the networking opportunities a valuable experience.

Look for the article featuring interviews of the five Gates scholars, including Brown, in the October issue of Ebony magazine.