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Waukegan High student named a Millennium Scholar

Josue Pasillas learned he had become first Waukegan High School student be named Millennium Scholar by Bill MelindGates Foundation. |

Josue Pasillas learned he had become the first Waukegan High School student to be named a Millennium Scholar by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. | Sun-Times Media file

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The Gates

According to a mission statement issued by the Gates Foundation, the goal is to offer assistance to “groups that have traditionally and historically been denied access to higher education.”

“The increasing diversity of our society reminds us that all of America’s citizens must have access to higher education if our nation is to sustain and advance itself as a global, competitive democracy in the new millennium,” the statement adds. “The future of our economy and quality of life depend upon the preparation of a diverse cadre of leaders who can help build a stronger society.”

Updated: June 26, 2013 2:33AM

Last week, Josue Pasillas learned he had become the first Waukegan High School student to be named a Millennium Scholar by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the future, he hopes to be known as Mayor Josue Pasillas.

“I want to be mayor of Waukegan,” Pasillas said Thursday, April 25, nearly a week after he found out that he was one of 1,000 high school seniors nationwide selected as 2013 Millennium Scholars, reportedly from a pool of 54,000 applicants.

If elected, he added, he would “try to get more people involved in government, (especially) in the Hispanic community.”

His City Hall platform would also focus on public safety and opportunities for youth volunteers.

But his more immediate agenda after graduation is to attend Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., an education that will be paid for through graduation by the Gates Foundation.

Created in 1999, the Millennium Scholar program is intended to cover the cost of education in any area of interest for an undergraduate, and it includes graduate school funding for those who continue to study computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.

Applicants must have a minimum grade-point average of 3.3, and the program is intended for African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander-American, and Hispanic-American students.

Information supplied by District 60 officials report that Pasillas has earned a GPA of 3.7 while taking seven Advanced Placement classes over the past two school years. He is also a member of the Student Council, the Schuler Scholars Program and the National Honor Society.

Charles Gutman, a college and career counselor at the Washington Campus, said Pasillas is “a do-gooder in the best sense of the word.”

“He really lives with the moral imperative that he wants to help others. (He’s) just really, really curious about people, and he’s a good observer,” added Gutman, noting that Pasillas provided a peer recommendation for seven of the other 34 Waukegan High students who applied for a Millennium Scholarship.

At Pitzer College, Pasillas said he will have the opportunity to take classes at neighboring schools like Pomona College, and he plans to major in environmental science.

He said he also has an interest in political studies, and in fact included that as a possible major on his application.

“I was thinking about running for mayor after graduation,” he said, “but now I think I might wait a few years.”

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