At 19, Gabe Simpson is ready to chart a path into his future.

The son of Brandon Simpson and Dalene Kirk, Simpson is this year's Honor Student, as picked by his instructors. He is also third in the class behind Mattie Haynes, Heather Robinett, who are tied, and Avery Williamson.

He jokes that even though he worked "his butt off" during high school, his grade in Spanish - 89.2, and another class put him in third place among his peers.

"I wanted to be valedictorian because I don't like not being first," Simpson said. 

His grades, along with his leadership skills and other factors, did help Simpson achieve something greater than valedictorian.

Simpson is one of 300 students within the United States to achieve the Gates Scholarship in 2018. He is one of two students picked for the honor within Delaware County. Reportedly 30,000 students applied for the scholarship. 

The scholarship, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is designed to fund the recipients "full cost of attendance that is not already covered by other scholarships and the expected family contribution, as determined by FAFSA."

This will include Simpsons' cost of attendance: tuition fees, room, books, transportation and may include additional personal expenses.

The scholarship will help Simpson complete his dream of playing football for the Oklahoma State University Cowboys.

Earlier this spring he signed with the team as a preferred walk-on - a role which guarantees him a spot on the team, but did not come with financial aid.

"I'm really happy I'll be able to go wherever I want, and not worry about it," Simpson said.

Simpson hopes to pursue a degree at OSU as either a physical therapist or pharmacist. Physical therapy helps him combine science with working with fellow athletes, while pharmacy combines his loves of chemistry and science.

He said serving on the INTEGRIS Grove Hospital Board, along with the Grand Savings Bank Junior Board, helped him decided his future path.

During his high school career, Simpson has been involved in multiple athletic programs including football, baseball, basketball and cheerleading.

Outside of sports he participated in the student council, Feather of Many Colors and FCA. He attends Mt. Hermon Church with his family.

Simpson hopes to be in medical school pursuing either the pharmacy or physical therapy degree within the next five to 10 years.

"Medicine is a secure future," Simpson said. "Unless they make people immortal, people will always need a doctor.