A Conversation With Bill Gates By Marissa Acierto/SCCPress.c​om

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A conversation with Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Co-Chairman engaged Harvey Mudd College community discussing roles of leadership in the world at Bridges Auditorium on the Pomona College campus.

Bill Gates

On March 10, 2011 in the early evening of 5 p.m. at Pomona College, the Bridges Auditorium was held one of a series of Annenberg Speaker and Distinguished Lectures co-sponsored by Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College. Bill Gates, former Microsoft Chairman, and current Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was the special guest speaker for the college.

There were 2,400 seats available for this event. At 4:00 p.m., capacity was deadlocked with all seats occupied. The excitement of seeing Bill Gates started with individuals lining up at the door of the Bridges Auditorium before 4:00 p.m. and continued until it opened up early at 4:15 p.m. A precedent of VIP tickets was reserved for attendees from Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College, including other alumni, college students and faculties.

The Annenberg Leadership and Management Speaker Series at Harvey Mudd College is funded by the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Fund for Leadership Development. It is a lecture series designed to engage the Harvey Mudd College community to think and discuss roles of leadership in the world.

The Distinguished Lecture Series at Pomona College brings together high-profile speakers who can forge an informative perspective. Since 2007, it has been funded by the Broe family.

The moderator introduced Bill Gates, and he shared how he started Microsoft and how it got to the top and made it a household name. In 2008, Gates left Microsoft to form a philanthropy organization for which he now co-chairs: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The focus of the Foundation is to donate money to disadvantaged people around the world. Gates calls it, "The poorest of the poor." The programs of the Foundation concentrate on global health, education, HIV/AIDS, libraries and agricultural research.

As a philanthropist, Gates said, "I believe in big success in education and big success for the poor." Gates also mentioned that he did not want Pell Grant to be cut for students- which is a ways and means for the disadvantaged to have a brighter future.

A question was asked from the moderator as to what struck him about the faculty. Bill Gates said, "It has energy and optimism and several products will succeed and have a meaningful impact. It has high quality of institution of learning. The asset in U.S. is the higher education like the one here." Gates further commented, "I am optimistic about the future."

Gates shared how he traveled around the world and the travesty of the human condition of food production and medicine. Gates said, "Even with innovation and a new vaccine, it does not support the needs of the poorest." Gates continued on and said, "Naturally, we do not get to spread around food and health. Pakistan and Northern Nigeria supplies of food? Population growth down? How do we fund the future health care and pensions? These are optimistic and tough problems."

Gates shared another health issue not resolved and said, "Several million are being infected every year with HIV/AIDS. The poorest countries are affected and 85% do not have enough money to do prevention. On top of that, poor countries do not approve of the regulations."

Gates' informative solution to create awareness within the audience said, "Development is more stringent and cost must be lowered. All these things should be done at once and be done in parallel."

Gates also talked about Polio being funded in the 1950's, the year the March of Dimes was formed. Polio is a state of being crippled and how it affects walking. At this point and time, the current statistics are at least 3,000 cases per year.

Bill Gates proudly said, "The Foundation spends more money than the U.S. government cuts." The audience clapped at that.

Gates was asked how he felt about Universal Health Care. Gates said, "Huge problem! Equity problem! Accessibility is a huge problem." He further explained and said, "Five percent of GDP." Our German and Swiss system is the best. Our health system is the worst. Canadian is not a preference." As for medicine, Gates encourages inventions by anyone developing or inventing a vaccine.

Gates enlightened others by his personal opinion suggesting the wave of careers are with computer science, education, robots and semi-intelligence, noted as artificial intelligence; importance of learning physics, a new way of generating energy and any mass science career. Gates also shared that his children can choose what they want. "The more you force them by picking your choice, the more they will go away from it. Someone has to do the math-science job."

One student in the audience asked, "What questions does Microsoft ask on a job interview?" Gates' answer, "We used to do brain teasers questions but not anymore."

Gates said, "Philanthropy is a great thing. Capitalism is a system as to why economy has been used. Venture capitalism is a positive thing."

Among those who attended and anticipated seeing Bill Gates were Jeffrey Lin, a Taiwanese-American originally from Texas; a senior student at Pomona College and recently employed at Facebook; Frank Liu a Chinese-American student at Harvey Mudd College and a first year freshman majoring in software engineering.

Antonio Garcia a mestizo Latino-American of German-American descent and alumni of Harvey Mudd College, who is currently an electrical engineer in San Diego County, said, "Gates' current endeavors are an inspiration. It is important to have passion when giving back to the community. The kind of impact the Gates foundation is having will create a positive impact on the future and our children's lives, creating a better place to live."

Courtesy Photo taken by Regina Ong. Photo: Bill Gates speaking at Pomona College.

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Marissa Acierto
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