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Willamette Welcomes Gates Scholars

Willamette University will welcome eight new Gates Millennium Scholars this fall, including seven from Oregon, almost one-third of the 24 students in the state who received the award this year. The prestigious national scholarship program, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, offers full-ride scholarships to exceptional students who otherwise might not be able to attend college.

The scholars who are attending Willamette include:

  • Elizabeth Calixtro from Woodburn, Ore., who wants to study politics or pre-law to become an advocate for the Latino community.
  • Octaviano Chavarin, from Merrill, Ore., who wants to study pre-med or pre-law.
  • Irving Corzo from Salem, Ore., a Willamette Academy graduate who plans to study pre-law and try out for the baseball team.
  • Elizabeth Guzman from Hood River, Ore., who ranked first in her high school class with the goal of pursuing medicine.
  • Freddy Leon from Woodburn, Ore., who is interested in business and economics.
  • Matthew Merritt from Aurora, Ore., who plans to study business and participate in track and field.
  • Elizabeth Sampedro from Eugene, Ore., who wants to study biology or chemistry as part of a pre-med career path.
  • Nilo Thomas from Avondale, Ariz., who intends to study pre-engineering or biology. In high school Thomas was president of the nationally recognized Carl Hayden High School Robotics Team, an inner-city team that received worldwide acclaim after beating MIT in an underwater robotics competition in 2004 and won the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) International Chairman's award in 2008.

President Barack Obama has committed the nation to having the highest college education rate in the world by 2020. The Gates Millennium Scholars Program helps ensure that minority students, who will soon make up a majority of the nation's college-age population and workforce, have access to higher education. As the nation's largest and most successful minority scholarship program, it awards 1,000 scholarships each year to outstanding students with financial need.

Gates Scholars have an average graduation rate of almost 80 percent, higher than the graduation rate for all college students and higher than the rate for high-income students.

For more information contact Ramiro Flores at Willamette's Office of Admission, rflores@willamette.edu or (503) 370-6303.