$10,000 ‘Taco’ scholar

He, FHS Class of 2018, awarded Taco Bell Foundation scholarship

Farragut High School 2018 graduate Michelle He recently won a $10,000 Live Mas scholarship from Taco Bell Foundation based on a two-minute video she submitted describing her passion for the educational path she has chosen to pursue.
Recent Farragut High School graduate Michelle He’s enthusiasm for her chosen profession helped her secure an unusual scholarship.

He learned earlier this year she won a $10,000 Live Mas scholarship from the Taco Bell Foundation based on a two-minute video she submitted describing her passion for the educational path she plans to follow after college.

She had seen posters promoting the scholarships, which sought to reward students based on their creativity and vision rather than test scores and academics.

However, He is no slouch in the academic department either, as she was one of 15 FHS National Merit finalists named this past school year.

“One of the things (the scholarship judges) like to see is innovation and pure love for what you want to pursue in the future,” she said.

He has demonstrated that interest through involvement in several unique educational outreach projects, including a tutoring initiative she developed as president of FHS Key Club in conjunction with an internship she served with City of Knoxville’s engineering department.

“Through that, I saw a recurring theme of the educational gap between Farragut and downtown Knoxville,” she said.

She said two separate entities partnered with the Key Club to provide a central location where urban students could be tutored in math, science and reading.

He also has competed with the Science Academy and the Science Olympiad, and has worked with Mini Mu Math competitions as an officer in Mu Alpha Theta honor society.

“In all of these programs, I got to work with youth, and I see what education is like and how to improve it for the future,” He said.

Her plan is to become a college professor, which will enable her to combine her love for teaching with a focus on her own continued learning opportunities through research.

She already has been able to do the latter by working for two years with the University of Tennessee’s Tickle College of Engineering.

“The reason I want to work with older students is that I love the research process, and I wouldn’t be able to pursue that as a K-12 teacher,” she said.

He also talked about how coming from a family of immigrants fueled her passion.

Her parents, Qiang He and Ping Wu, came to the United States from China when they were in their 20s.

“My family came to this country for a better education,” she said. “They were in awe of the U.S. education system and the opportunity everyone gets (to have that).”

The 2018 FHS graduate said she relayed in the video that having a multi-cultural background helped her find “my own identity, my own voice, my own passion.”

He will be attending Emory University’s Atlanta Campus, where she will work on a dual degree program with Georgia Tech, studying environmental engineering.

“I am so thankful to the Taco Bell Foundation for providing this opportunity for everyone to be able to pursue their passion, and it is so cool to see more and more people doing that,” she said.

“But most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to do what I love.”