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Jefferson senior receives prestigious Gates Millennium scholarship


Gerardo Castillo, a senior at Jefferson High School, has been selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar. Gerardo will use the scholarship to attend Harvard University in the fall.

The Gates Millennium Scholar Program provides 1,000 scholarships every year, which are good through graduation at the college or university of the student’s choice. The scholarship covers any unmet need.

There are 59 Gates Millennium Scholars in Illinois; Gerardo is the only recipient from northern Illinois and the Rockford region.

The Scholars program was started in 1999 to remove barriers to education for outstanding minority students who face significant financial need. The program also provides leadership training, mentoring, academic and social support. Recipients of the scholarship have a six-year graduation rate of more than 87 percent (28 percent higher than the national graduation rate for all students and comparable to rates for students from high-income families).

Jefferson Principal Don Rundall is not surprised at Gerardo’s distinction. “Gerardo is a scholar in every sense of the word. His commitment to education is obvious, but what people may not know about him is how fearless he is and how readily he seeks a challenge,” Rundall said. “We are so proud of him here at Jefferson. As much as we will miss him, we know he is headed for great things – in the Ivy League and beyond.”

Gerardo is planning to major in chemistry and, after college, would like to attend medical school. As a Gates Millennium scholar, he receives help with masters and doctoral study as well. Targeted fields for graduate school funding are computer science, education, engineering, library sciences, mathematics, public health or science.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is funded through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information, see the program’s website at

Read more on the Rockford Public Schools blog.