Gates scholar completes first seminar requirement

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Lacey, Wash. - Carlos A. González, the Saint Martin's College recipient of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, recently returned from the first seminar for the program with information to help him and other minorities excel in college.

Carlos GonzalezGonzález, a sophomore studying international relations and business administration at Saint Martin's, attended the first Gates Millennium Scholarship seminar in March. 

Bill and Melinda Gates created the Gates Millennium Scholars Program with a $1 billion pledge from their foundation in 2000. Approximately $20 million in educational assistance will be distributed amongst minority recipients over the next 20 years. Their goal is to develop a diversified force of future leaders for America by facilitating successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees by economically disadvantaged African American, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific American and Hispanic American students.

Saint Martin's College is a four-year Roman Catholic, coeducational college offering liberal arts-based programs leading to associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. Nearly 1,500 students are enrolled at the main campus in Lacey, Wash. as well as its extension campuses at Fort Lewis Army Post and McChord Air Force Base. Approximately 4 percent of the college's population is Hispanic/Latino.

"Bill Gates noticed that the population of minorities in America was growing really fast but he also noticed that many of them weren't getting a college education," González said of the creation of the program. "And he realized that most of the time financial barriers caused this discrepancy."

González was one of 4,000 students chosen to be a member of the start-up generation of scholars. Nearly 62,000 students submitted applications to the program. Applicants were selected based on exceptional academic promise, significant financial need and leadership skills.

González, whose family is living in Toppenish while he is in school, is originally from Los Fresnos, Michoacán, México.

Scholars are required to attend yearly seminars while in the program. The first seminar served to educate scholars on census information and provided them the opportunity to meet other student leaders from around the nation who were also admitted to the program. While there, González joined in on discussions about barriers that minorities have at their respective colleges and universities and what can be done to improve these situations.

"Attending these seminars once a year will help us see what is working and what is not," González said. "We actually have the opportunity to improve the program since we are the first generation of the 20-year program."

By the year 2020 minorities in America are predicted to be almost half of the country's population, thus González will be graduating from the program around the same time that the minority population he represents is booming.

"Being a member of the first generation of the program creates a tremendous responsibility to do my best so this program can be productive for subsequent scholars," González said.

For more information:
Christina Ramírez-Milhoan, communications specialist
Saint Martin's College Office of Communication
360-438-4541 or cramirez@stmartin.edu