Speaking to sev­eral hun­dred high-​​school seniors from Boston public schools, third-​​year behav­ioral neu­ro­science major Angel Han shared tips and advice on how she earned a Gates Mil­len­nium Schol­ar­ship, which pays for up to a decade’s worth of col­lege expenses for stu­dents of color.

“There are so many stu­dents who apply for this schol­ar­ship that you have to stand out and be cre­ative,” said Han, whose essay high­lighted her com­mu­nity ser­vice and lead­er­ship work. “I used my essay to show, rather than tell, what I did when I vol­un­teered and how it had shaped me as a leader.”

North­eastern hosted a kickoff for the Gates Mil­len­nium Schol­ar­ship last Thursday and Friday. The event pro­vided sup­port to help stu­dents com­plete the exten­sive appli­ca­tion, which includes eight essays ques­tions and is due in early Jan­uary.

Stu­dents at North­eastern for the kickoff event rep­re­sented some of the top high– school seniors in Boston, with high GPAs and lead­er­ship posi­tions in their schools and com­mu­ni­ties.

“I am so glad to see this room full. I am so excited to see all of you because of the oppor­tu­ni­ties that you have before you,” said Ronné Patrick Turner, Northeastern’s asso­ciate vice pres­i­dent for enroll­ment and dean of admis­sions. “There is no better time than now, because what you do in these next few months will help you achieve your dreams.”

The com­pet­i­tive schol­ar­ship, estab­lished in 1999 with a $1.6 bil­lion grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, covers col­lege costs for 1,000 high-​​school seniors of color each year.

“The goal of the Gates schol­ar­ship is to pro­vide young people the oppor­tu­nity to become our nation’s next gen­er­a­tion of leaders,” said Ryan Davis of the United Negro Col­lege Fund.

In addi­tion to the kickoff event, Northeastern’s Office of Oppor­tu­nity Schol­ar­ship and Out­reach Pro­grams is hosting four work­shops — one each month between now and Jan­uary — to help high-​​school seniors com­plete their appli­ca­tions. Out­reach director Jana McCarthy said part­ner­ships between public schools and insti­tu­tions like North­eastern are key to increasing the number of stu­dents from Boston who receive the Gates schol­ar­ship from last year’s count of seven, all young women.

“I’m not happy with just seven stu­dents from Boston — we need to do better,” McCarthy said. “The young men espe­cially, we need you to commit to fin­ishing this appli­ca­tion.”

Before the stu­dents left campus on Friday, they broke up into smaller groups, where cur­rent Gates scholars and North­eastern stu­dents and staff helped them get started on the appli­ca­tion essays.

“Just a little bit of hard work now can make a big dif­fer­ence over the years,” said North­eastern eco­nomics major Eric Brooks.