Sebastian Horcasitas '21 had his sights set on attending Kettering University. And with one announcement, his goals were made a reality.
Horcasitas received the Gates Millennium Scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives him a full scholarship to the university of his choice and will fund his education through a doctoral program.
“It was pretty life-changing. This is a huge relief for me and my family,” said Horcasitas, who currently attends Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas. “It pays for everything. Absolutely everything. My mom called me sobbing saying I got it. It was very emotional for everyone.”
The Gates Millennium Scholarship Program has funded more than 17,000 scholars since its inception. Out of 53,000 applicants, only 1,000 were awarded the scholarship this year, Horcasitas said. And he was one of only 350 Hispanic students to receive it.
“It feels amazing and it feels empowering to know that I stand out and that I have a chance at succeeding in college,” he said. “It gives me a boost of confidence.”
Horcasitas plans to study Computer Science starting in the fall of 2016. Kettering is familiar to him. His brother, Jorge Horcasitas ‘13, studied Computer Engineering. After coming to Kettering for a visit it’s where Sebastian knew he wanted to be as well
“The co-op seemed really awesome to me. It will help prepare me for the world outside of college. I won’t struggle adapting to the workplace and I will feel a lot more confident going out in the workplace,” Sebastian Horcasitas said. “I come from a private school right now. I’m used to really small classes, a small student body and a lot of one-on-one time with the teacher. It’s similar at Kettering. That was really appealing to me.”
He had an interest in computers starting at an early age, especially watching his brother fix people’s laptops at home. Add in a love for math and computer science seemed to be perfect for him. Thanks to the financial assistance for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, he is able to attend Kettering to follow that passion.
To be eligible for the Gates scholarship, students not only have to have at least a 3.3 GPA but demonstrate leadership abilities through participation in community service.
Giving back is something important to Horcasitas. He volunteered with a program that helped people who were struggling to pass the tests to get U.S. citizenship by giving classes and helping them prepare. He also volunteered with an organization that helps farmers who grow crops to help feed those in need.
“It felt really rewarding,” Horcasitas said.
And even when he’s in college he plans to continue to give back to the El Paso community. Every year during winter break his high school holds a writing symposium where students are helped with essay writing for scholarships, encouraged to stand out and pushed to make their essays better. He wants to go back and help and encourage students like he was helped and encouraged.
“I want to give back to our community,” Horcasitas said. “I couldn’t have done it without the people who helped me.”