4-H Latino camp sees fourth counselor in five years win Gates Scholarship

Mario Magana makes sure his 4-H Latino Camp counselors are well prepared to apply for college scholarships.

Samantha Martinez has become the fourth Oregon State University 4-H Latino summer camp counselor in five years to receive a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship, a prestigious full-ride scholarship from undergraduate through Ph.D. study, given out to only 1,000 students a year.

Martinez, a senior at Douglas McKay High School in Salem, plans on attending this fall Sweet Briar College in Virginia, eventually hoping for a career with the FBI.

Her mentor, camp director Mario Magana of OSU, said he believes the role model philosophy of the 4-H program is a big motivator for high school students, and the fact that so many of his former students became Millennium Scholars is an added inspiration.

There’s also a practical aspect.

“We teach kids how to apply for scholarships,” he said. “There’s a big difference in telling students to apply for scholarships and teaching them how to do it. That’s what’s really making the difference. They have a clear understanding of what to do, and hands-on experience.”

“What is making the difference is that it is not a one-time contact or information received,” he said. “It is because our constant outreaching and engaging youth into a sequence of year-round events, leadership involvement, and educational activities. I firmly believe that the sequence of events and the amount of time spent in our program are the major factors that are preparing students for the best.”

Bill and Melinda Gates established the Millennium Scholarship program with a $1 billion gift in 1989 to help qualified minority students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in math, science, education and library science.

~ Theresa Hogue

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