Jose Cervantes spent his senior year at Inglewood High School exploring colleges around the country before narrowing his choices to UC Berkeley, UCLA and USC.
Not knowing which of the three top-tier schoolsto attend was a good problem to have – and his acceptance into the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholars Program didn’t make the decision any easier.
As one of 1,000 2015 Gates Millennium Scholars from across the country, Jose was recently awarded a good-through-graduation scholarship to pursue any undergraduate degree at the college or university of his choice – completely easing the financial burden of attending college.
The program, which also covers certain graduate programs for continuing scholars, is available to students of African-American, American-Indian, Asian Pacific Islander- American or Hispanic-American descent. Students must meet a variety of eligibility criteria concerning academic performance, leadership attributes, community service work and more.
Cervantes’ official acceptance letter came in a thick envelope mailed to his home on a recent Friday, he said.
“I was already excited (to see the envelope),” Cervantes recalled. “I opened it up … the first thing it said was, ‘Welcome to the GMS family.’
“I was really happy.”
Cervantes came up through Inglewood Unified schools, attending Oak Street Elementary and CrozierMiddle before enrolling in Inglewood High, where he took advantage of the school’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) and College Bound programs.
AVID “is kind of a family,” Cervantes said. “I love the people who come up to me and ask for help.”
While Cervantes is self-motivated, he said his older sister’s success in school and acceptance into UCLA helped influence his decision to apply for the Gates Millennium scholarship and work hard to get into a good college. She even hung a UCLA poster in his bedroom that remained with him through high school.
Now, two of the five Cervantes siblings will be Bruins, as Jose has decided to follow his sister’s path to UCLA.