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Righetti High School senior Kush Patel was recently selected as a Gates Scholar, making him one of 300 out of more than 28,700 applicants nationwide.

Patel will receive the Gates Scholarship to pay for the funding cost of attendance that is not covered by financial aid. The school’s salutatorian, who plans to attend Brown University and major in neuroscience, ranks in the top one percent of his class with a 4.6 GPA.

“I am extremely humbled and blessed to be in this position,’’ Patel said. “I owe a debt of gratitude to the Gates Foundation, my counselor, teachers, friends, and my wonderful family. I want to specially thank my grandfather in India. He wanted to pursue a college education when he was young but could not afford to do so. I thank the man above for letting me do what my grandfather could not. This scholarship in an investment in me and I promise to give back to my community."

Patel moved to the United States from India in 2014. English is not his first language.

Gates Scholars have mastered academic achievement and left indelible marks on their high school communities. Patel’s community service included Food Bank of Santa Maria, Marian Hospital, Desi Home Care (elderly), Scrutiny Non-Profit Surgical Camp in India, tutoring peers and other countless efforts. In addition to playing varsity golf and tennis, Patel was also a member of the Key Club, CSF President, Future Leaders of America and other organizations.

Patel’s school counselor Norma Hernandez couldn’t be prouder.

“It has been a pleasure working with Kush,’’ Hernandez said. “He has proven that hard work and dedication pay off and takes you closer to your goals.’’

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.