Falmouth High School senior Ryan Gao has won a $100,000 college scholarship from Lumber Liquidators founder and hydrogen fuel technology entrepreneur Tom Sullivan.

The announcement was made Tuesday at the National Hydrogen Conference and Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

Sullivan surprised many when he decided to give $100,000 to each of 10 finalists for the Proton Energy Scholarship.

He initially planned to grant one four-year award, but decided that all the students were worthy of the full amount.

“All 10 finalists are truly exceptional individuals and it was impossible to only give away one $100,000 scholarship, so we awarded all the students the grand prize,” Sullivan said. “Each and every student shows tremendous promise in fields of science and technology, and we are excited to help support the bright futures ahead of these talented individuals.”

Gao is a member of Falmouth High’s science team, which represented northern New England at the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., last weekend. He’s also an accomplished jazz singer and Principal’s Award winner who plans to study science and math at Stanford University in California.

The scholarship is sponsored by Sullivan’s company, Proton Energy Systems, which designs and manufactures proton exchange membrane electrochemical systems, which extract hydrogen from water.

Sullivan also founded SunHydro, the world’s first chain of privately funded hydrogen fueling stations for cars.

The scholarship recognizes high school seniors who demonstrate outstanding achievement in science or technology and plan to pursue higher education in these areas.

The finalists also were evaluated based on financial need and demonstrated leadership, work ethic and community involvement.

The other scholarship recipients are: Sahil Khetpal, Plano, Texas; Matthew Lee, Pacolet, S.C.; Andres Parrado, Stamford, Conn.; Carolyn Bai, Old Saybrook, Conn.; Jesse Castaneda, Morro Bay, Calif.; William McNeary IV, Charleston, Mo.; Philip Lubik, Harwinton, Conn.; Alexandra Olivares, Dubuque, Iowa; Jenny Lu, Southbury, Conn.


Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]


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