Every day I’m reminded of how my dad’s wisdom, generosity, and compassion live on in the many people he influenced and inspired around the world.
One of the most significant ways my dad’s spirit continues is through the Gates Cambridge Scholarship Program. Of all the grants he was involved in at our foundation, this one was always his favorite.
When we started the Gates Cambridge Scholarship in 2000, we wanted to help exceptional students from all over the world experience the university’s 800-year legacy of higher education, learn from each other, and prepare to be global leaders.
Each year, Gates Cambridge offers about 80 full-cost scholarships for students to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the university. Scholars are selected on their intellectual ability, their leadership potential, and perhaps most importantly for my dad, their commitment to improving the lives of others.
More than two decades later, this scholarship has reached more than 2,000 students from 111 different countries. The alumni of the program have gone on to remarkable careers, in fields ranging from public health to international relations, chemistry to information technology, and oceanography to neuroscience.
Former Gates Cambridge scholars are now venturing into space, fighting for human rights, working to defeat COVID, and creating sustainable solutions to avoid climate change in their communities. And we couldn’t be prouder of the difference they’re making, and the leaders they have become.
My dad’s parents never finished high school and he went to college thanks to the GI Bill, so he always saw education as the way he was given access to opportunity. My dad was always very passionate about the power of learning, the importance of engaging people with diverse interests and giving back to those in need. I think that’s why this scholarship, which has given opportunities to many students who might otherwise not have them, was so near and dear to him. When someone once asked my dad if anything ever made him speechless, he said “my trips to Cambridge to meet Gates Cambridge scholars.”
Even though my dad is no longer with us, this scholarship program is the embodiment of his most cherished beliefs—that, given the opportunity, people will come together, solve the biggest challenges we face, and make the world a better and more humane place for everyone.