Paul Jasinto (S'12)
Chemistry major, Gates Millennium Scholar, cheerleader
Immersing himself fully in the Carnegie Mellon experience
In September, Bill Gates presented the keynote address at dedication ceremonies for Carnegie Mellon’s Gates Center for Computer Science and the Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies. As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Paul Jasinto had the chance to meet the man who helped make his education possible—and his dreams come true. Even as a small child, Paul Jasinto wanted to be a scientist. At times, he wavered between astronomer, archaeologist and physicist. But once he found chemistry, he was hooked. Now, thanks to the Gates Millennium Scholars program, Jasinto can pursue that dream without worrying about how he’ll finance the education he so desperately wanted.
Funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program awards scholarships to extraordinarily talented, low-income students of color. As a Gates Millennium Scholar, and with support from Carnegie Mellon, Jasinto will graduate from college debt-free.
“The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is the reason I am able to go to the school that I’ve wanted to go to for years. It’s the reason that I can focus on my studies and my extracurriculars instead of working,” said Jasinto, a sophomore chemistry major.
And focus he does. Jasinto began his first year at Carnegie Mellon eager to take advantage of every opportunity that came his way. He didn’t hesitate to jump right into the lab even before his feet hit campus, and he applied for and was accepted into the Phage Genomics research course, which gives first-year students the opportunity to conduct authentic research.
“I really love the fact that we did original research, which is not something I thought I would get my hands on as a freshman,” he said. “It’s a really excellent class. I learned lab skills, a sense of independence and a lot about conducting my own research.”
He put those newly acquired research skills to use during the summer in the bioorganic chemistry laboratory of Assistant Professor Subha Das.
“Paul has immersed himself fully in his Carnegie Mellon experience with an incredibly diverse portfolio of extracurricular experiences in addition to the demanding curriculum of a chemistry major,” said Karen Stump, teaching professor, director of Undergraduate Studies and Laboratories, and Jasinto’s advisor. “He is incredibly upbeat with a positive can-do attitude, and he loves Carnegie Mellon.”
In fact, he loves Carnegie Mellon so much that he literally became one of its biggest cheerleaders. Jasinto, a wrestler in high school, despaired when he learned that Carnegie Mellon didn’t have a wrestling team. His dorm’s Community Advisor suggested cheerleading as an alternative. Jasinto gave it a shot and ended up really liking it. His school spirit and tremendous energy extend beyond the football field. Jasinto built booth and pushed buggy during Spring Carnival; is an RA at Hamerschlag; belongs to Sigma Alpha Epsilon; and mentors minority first-year students through COMPASS (Coaching Minority Progress and Academic Success in Science), a student-led program in MCS.
“I’m glad to be a part of student life. I love the entire experience,” he said.
Jasinto has been so touched by his experience as a Gates Millennium Scholar that he volunteers to speak to high school students about the program. A native of Florida, Jasinto takes time out of his visits home to travel to local high schools to encourage students to apply for the scholarship. He can’t help but thank Bill and Melinda Gates for the opportunities that have come his way.
“Bill and Melinda Gates have made an investment in me. They’ve put faith in my potential. I’ve always been really driven, but this has motivated me even more.”