Posted: 11/23/10

TAMIU Student Receives
Gates Millennium Scholarship

Jorge Muñoz

Jorge Muñoz, a freshman engineering major at Texas A&M International University, becomes a little shy and conscious of having an accent when he speaks English.

Muñoz grew up in México and moved to the United States during high school. English is a newly acquired language for him and at times, mid-conversation, he asks if he can briefly switch back to speaking Spanish because language translations can still become overwhelming to process in his mind.

He says that when he writes, he is as confident in expressing himself in English as any other U.S. college student.

“I can talk for hours on paper, “ he said, “I can write with a lot of details and be myself.”

To Muñoz’s surprise, his writing skills placed him in an enviable position only a few university students in the country can dream about: he was named winner of the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As one of 1,000 scholars chosen out of 23,000 applicants nationwide, practically all of Muñoz’s education will be funded by the GMS Scholarship through his planned doctoral studies.

“I feel blessed,” said Muñoz, explaining that he wrote a total of eight essays to apply for the GMS scholarship. “After being notified of the scholarship, they asked us to put together a poster collage with words that describe our reaction. Some of the words we came up with were ‘privileged,’ ‘humble,’ ‘strong,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘future.’ ‘Blessed’ was the biggest word there and that’s exactly how I felt. ”

Earlier this month, Muñoz joined other scholars at the Gates Millennium Leadership Conference in Los Angeles and was introduced to the pride and responsibility of being a Gates Scholar.

“Mainly, they want us to be leaders,” Muñoz said, “When the Foundation gave us this scholarship, they gave it to us because they think we can be potential leaders. They expect you to make a change in the community and I’m willing to take the responsibility and be an agent of change.”

As part of his plans to give back to his community, Muñoz has already held a presentation for concurrent enrollment students at TAMIU who are interested in applying for the GMS Scholarship and other scholarships.

“I would like to encourage students to realize that they don’t have to solely rely on their grades to be considered for a scholarship,” Muñoz said, “The most important thing is to know yourself. I think I won the GMS scholarship because of my writing skills and because I knew myself well.”

Honesty and humility are also words that characterize Muñoz.

“I take this scholarship humbly and am willing to help others if they want to apply for the GMS Scholarship,” he said, “If you want me to help you with the scholarship aapplication, I’ll do it… as long as it helps you.”

He thanked TAMIU Associate Director of Recruitment and School Relations Scheiby Fisher for encouraging him to apply for the Scholarship.

Also, he credits his parents for raising him to be a balanced individual.

“I’m an only child but I don’t feel I fit the stereotype of an only child,” he said,
“My parents taught me the importance of independence and a balanced life. You don’t always have to exhaust yourself to get the best grade in school. Their attitude has always been that of ‘if your grades are good, we congratulate you, and if they are low, well, learn from your mistakes and do better the next time.’”

Muñoz, whose scholarship essay told the story of his father who he says works tirelessly to put food on his family’s table, said he is immensely proud of his parents.

“My parents have been an enormous source of support for me,” he said.
As for his future career plans, Muñoz said he would like to become an electrical engineer. And he’s planning ahead already.

“After my studies, I would like to start as an employee of a company and then become an entrepreneur and continue reaching as high as God wants me to,” Muñoz said, “And if possible, I would like to start a scholarship fund to help other students.”

For more information, please contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 326.2180, e-mail prmis@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library.

University offices will be closed starting Nov. 25 in observation of the Thanksgiving Holidays. Offices will resume their 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. regular hours starting Monday. Nov. 29.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu