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Cañada College Upward Bound Student Named Gates Millennium Scholar

Redwood City’s Roberto Pablo Pimienta is one of 1,000 students nationwide that will receive the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship for 2012. More than 24,000 students applied. The scholarship will pay for Pimienta’s tuition, fees, books, and living expenses at Stanford University. It will also pay for fellowships for graduate school, mentoring services, leadership opportunities, and access to internships.

Pimienta is a senior at Sequoia High School in Redwood City and is a participant in the Cañada College TRiO Upward Bound Program. Upward Bound is a federally funded pre-college program designed to assist first-generation college students prepare for college. It consists of Saturday workshops at Cañada College and weekly tutoring. During the summer, students participate in a six-week program offering academic courses and activities on the Cañada College campus. It serves approximately 50 students from the East Palo Alto and North Fair Oaks areas.

“I initially learned about the Upward Bound Program because I saw my friends going there after school,” Pimienta said. “Joining the program was definitely one of the best decisions I made in my high school career.”

Pimienta joined Upward Bound in the second semester of his sophomore year. He said the Upward Bound Program became his platform for success in high school, both academically and emotionally. “With the help of Upward Bound, I have significantly improved my writing skills and learned more about my potential to be successful. I was able to learn how to prepare a competitive college application for some of the leading higher education institutions.”

Pimienta was accepted by Stanford, Tufts, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He chose Stanford but hasn’t decided on a major. “I’m considering Chemistry and/or Biology,” he said. “I would also like to explore Chemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Environmental Science. I have plenty of time to explore my options.”

“Roberto is awesome!” said Upward Bound Program Director Rosalina Mira. “He is extremely dedicated and a hard worker. He is passionate about science. Upward Bound is like a second family to him. I have seen Roberto grow from when he started the program. He is more confident and he also volunteers and is involved in the greater community.”

Pimienta has focused his community service on supporting the local immigrant community. He has tutored English, taught English to senior citizens, and raised money for scholarships for undocumented students. His participation in the Sequoia High School Dream Club and the Immigrant Youth Action Team has helped raise awareness as to the challenges faced by immigrant youth.

Pimienta said he is finishing his International Baccalaureate Diploma at Sequoia and has taken additional math and science classes at Cañada College. He has also conducted research in three different departments at Stanford and participated in the summer engineering program at MIT.

The Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program, established in 1999, was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential.

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