By GARY LONG Staff Writer

Victor Rangel, a senior at Harmony School of Innovation, had already been accepted at Harvard University and other top schools when he recently learned he was chosen to receive a Gates Scholarship.


The Gates Scholarship removes the financial pressure. Attending Harvard is an expensive proposition, but the Gates covers all of his college expenses for five years, he said.


The Gates Scholarship is funded through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Rangel was chosen from among more than 28,000 applicants across the nation. Gates officials narrowed the field to 2,000 semifinalists and then to 600 finalists, from which the 300 Gates Scholars were chosen.


Rangel has committed to attend Harvard, where he will pursue a career as a research neurosurgeon. He was accepted at 10 other schools including Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University.


He said a career as a research neurosurgeon appeals to him because it takes place in a lab setting and offers the opportunity to research new treatments, for example a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


Throughout high school Rangel has been involved in school clubs and other extracurricular activities, often in leadership positions. He said that involvement likely helped him in the college application process.


“At Harmony we strive to execute our mission by preparing each of our scholars for a higher education,” Harmony stated in a news release about Rangel. The school currently has 44 seniors who have garnered 145 college acceptances, the release stated.


Rangel said Harmony does a great job of educating students because it includes students, parents and teachers in the process. “The teachers are really invested in their students and make sure we get to where we want to be,” he said.


Rangel is in a position to know. He has been a student at Harmony since the charter school district opened its first Brownsville campus in 2008 when he was in third grade.


He had this advice for other high school students:


“Try your best. High school only lasts four years, yet what you do now will impact the rest of your life. Take advanced courses, join clubs. Go out and get involved with your community. Live your life like there is no tomorrow and never doubt yourself or your ability to achieve your goals,” he said.


Rangel has been involved in the UTRGV High School Scholars Program, was president of the Student Council and of the school’s Health Occupations Students of America chapter


As a member of the College Readiness Leadership Program he achieved the National Congressional Award Gold Medal, the National President’s Award for Volunteer Service and was recognized by U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela in August 2018.