I own an iPod and an iPhone (the 3G version which I refuse to upgrade until it breaks down; I don’t care how many new versions Apple comes out with), but I will probably never jump ship from Microsoft’s products completely. This is because Bill Gates helped me pay for college.
When I was 17, I applied to the Gates Millennium scholarship, set up by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It helps minority students pay for their college education. The program is partnered with other organizations like the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation and The United Negro College Fund, to name a few. I got the scholarship and was fortunate enough to pay for my tuition completely through scholarships and grants. The Gates Foundation check was usually included in my financial aid refund.
I can safely say that it would have been impossible for me to go to college without that scholarship. Even though I did receive other financial aid, that only covered tuition. I had to commute to college because I didn’t have the money to pay for on-campus living. It didn’t cover the other financial problems that cropped up during the year. The Gates check helped me pay for my books, my gas, my auto troubles, and for groceries.
All of this came to mind when I read an article at Hispanically Speaking News. It was about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation working together with Univision, the Spanish language TV network, on a program called Es El Momento:
Univision today unveiled the second phase of its highly successful, multi-platform education initiative, Es El Momento (The Moment is Now). The initiative’s second phase highlights the importance of children having role models in their lives, encouraging parents to teach by example and instill in their children the importance of education, as the key to their success.
I highly doubt that Bill Gates has been a paragon of corporate ethics; I don’t think you would find a CEO and billionaire who is. Nonetheless, I find it admirable that the foundation keeps contributing to these causes. Education is one of the best tools minorities can have in their skill set. It’s extremely important that parents and children in the Latino communities in this country are able have access to higher education opportunities. We need to know the importance of a college degree, how to apply for college, how to apply for it, and just plain know where to start.
Even if the value of a college degree has fallen, it is still one of the biggest requirements for jobs today. Plenty of minorities would not have the job opportunities they do without a college degree. Education gives you options. Options that Latinos in this country sorely need. Options that I received thanks to that scholarship.