Branden del Rio
Bill Gates led a question-and-answer session on March 10 in Bridges Auditorium in Claremont in front of students from Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College.
Gates spoke little about Microsoft and instead focused more on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, healthcare, agriculture and his other philanthropic ventures.
He was introduced to a full auditorium by Pomona College president David Oxtoby.
“I want to welcome all of you to spend some time with one of America’s great visionaries, entrepreneurs and philanthropists,” Oxtoby said in his introduction.
Maria Klawe, Harvey Mudd College president, led the discussion after Oxtoby.
Klawe began the talk with asking Gates about the Pomona Gates Millennium Scholars he met with prior to the session.
“It’s great to see their energy, the optimism, I got to see some poster sessions which involved real research being done at the undergraduate level. Several of the projects I think will succeed in having a meaningful impact,” Gates said.
Klawe and Gates sat on stage in two large chairs with a table between them as Klawe asked questions for the first half of the lecture. She quoted a letter she received from Gates.
“In your letter you said you were willing to be a troublemaker when it comes when it comes to making progress on AIDS internationally, so being a troublemaker myself I was wondering what do you have in mind?” Klawe asked.
Gates said the medication used to fight HIV/AIDS is still not readily available in third world countries. He said that he wants to shake things up because hoping for the medicine to trickle down into third world countries will not work.
Klawe lightened the mood and asked Gates what he would choose to major in if we was currently a college freshman.
“Well I think it’s a hard choice. If you go into medicine then you can either become somebody who is hands-on being a great doctor, or you can go into inventing new vaccines where your impact can be pretty phenomenal so it’s pretty hard to beat that. If you go into computer science you can get software you can get robots to be a real thing, you can finally get computers to be semi-intelligent and that’s exciting,” Gates said.
After the discussion Oxtoby opened the floor to audience members to ask questions.
University of La Verne freshman Howell Hargrave attended and asked Gates how he can take his philanthropy, which helps people with spinal injuries, to the next level.
Gates advised him to keep focused on few problems with his philanthropy to maximize the impact.
Gates also mentioned that he supports universal healthcare and is not a fan of the American system.
“Our medical system has to change. I’d take any rich country’s medical system over ours,” Gates said.
Branden del Rio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.