1st Gates Millennium Scholar set to graduate

One of the reasons Jarod Armenta ’15 chose Cornell was the opportunity to take off-campus courses afforded by the One Course At A Time curriculum. That’s not unusual; plenty of students come to Cornell because they’ll have the chance to spend some of their blocks off campus. But what makes Armenta different is that he was the first Gates Millennium Scholar to choose Cornell.

Jarod Armenta ’15
Jarod Armenta ’15, the first Gates Millennium Scholar to attend Cornell College, is set to graduate in May.

Armenta, from Homedale, Idaho, was one of about 1,000 high school students to receive the scholarship in 2011. The program offers good-through-graduation scholarships to outstanding African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with financial need. He’s an environmental studies major with a biology minor, and has lived up to his plan of studying off campus, with courses in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and the Wilderness Field Station in Minnesota.

He also did summer research at the Boise State University Raptor Research Center, and that, along with another summer research project with biology Professor Marty Condon, solidified his love of both field and lab work. During his time at Cornell, he said, he’s seen professors who are able to travel and do research, and that inspired him.

“I realized that if they can do it, I could too,” he said. “So it came together.”

He is keeping his options open for after graduation. He hopes to get a position at the Boise State Raptor lab, so he can earn a master’s degree and, eventually, a doctorate in population genetics and conservation. But he’s also applied to the Peace Corps, and if he chooses that, he will work in Paraguay.

Armenta was the first Gates Millennium Scholar at Cornell, but two others have followed: juniors Wyatt Whitegoat and Michelle Ngribabul.