October 1st, 2014 was unlike many October 1sts I’ve experienced (granted, I’ve only seen 19 October 1sts). This was the day I met Bill Gates, in person. I seriously never thought I would meet the world’s richest man, nor that I would meet the founder himself of my scholarship- the Gates Millennium Scholarship.
When word was released that Bill Gates was coming to give a talk at Cornell, people were very, very excited. So excited, that in fact, tickets were being resold, for more than $100. Tickets were given away for free, and they were being sold!! It was quite unreal, especially because as a Gates Scholar, I didn’t have to worry about getting ticket. In fact, I would meet Mr. Gates himself.
The talk, “A Conversation with Bill Gates: Considering the Future of Higher Education“, was centered around questions from students, typically regarding the issue of higher education. Bill Gates commented on the raising costs of education and the connection to students from low-income backgrounds. He stated that “the bulk of low-income students” are getting educated at state universities, and that it is, thus, imperative to control the costs of those schools.
Another comment Gates made was that universities should aim to increase graduation rates, and again, he made the connection between low-income students and the graduation rates. I thought it was important that he was raising awareness of the difficulties that low-income students face in higher education.
I mentioned a little about the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As a Gates Scholar, I have a good-through-graduate-school scholarship. It’s pretty amazing. I definitely, definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested, and meets the prerequisites, which are listed on the site. It’s been one of the biggest blessings of my life.
There were around 40 Gates Scholars at the talk yesterday. We were all psyched to get a little of his time after the talk! So, to be extra classy, we all wore business casual attire, red and black. And we looked amazing.
Some of the Gates Millennium Scholars at Cornell in Bailey Hall, representing a diverse array of majors, colleges, hometowns, and stories. Photo Credit: Gemara Gifford.
Ok, ok, I’ll get to the good stuff. So after the talk in Bailey, we were all led to the back of the stage, where Bill Gates would greet us for a quick, professional picture (which I don’t have, but will, and you’ll bet I’ll frame it). After, he would take some questions from any of us. Before that, however, the one graduate Gates Scholar, Gemara Gifford, among us introduced us to Mr. Gates. In a brilliant and emotional speech, she thanked him for his contribution to our educations. I teared up a bit, because I know that the road to Cornell certainly has not been an easy one for me, but the Scholarship has given me so much, not only financial assistance and an option to attend graduate school up to a Ph.D., but the wonderful network it has provided.
To spare you all some more sappy details, I’ll share some pictures I snapped of Mr. Gates, just so you believe me.
Bill Gates & President Skorton.
^Up close & personal!!!