Category Archives: Passion

Pope Francis

The final person I will be discussing is Pope Francis. After the death of Pope Benedict the XVI, many people began to question who the next pope would be. As soon as it was announced that the new pope would be the former Cardinal Bergoglio, the media began analyzing his life and many wondered how he would compare to the previous popes and if he would be more liberal and work towards reform in the Catholic Church. It soon became evident that Pope Francis would be working towards reform in the Church and would hopefully change it for the better.

Pope Francis was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio on December 17th, 1936 in Flores in Buenos Aires. He was the oldest of five in an Italian family that had emigrated to escape the facist regime of Benito Mussolini. Bergoglio studied at his local archdiocesan seminary, Inmaculada Conception Seminary and entered the Society of Jesus on March 11th, 1958. A fun fact about the future pope is that during his time at the seminary, he had a crush on one of the girls he met, and doubted whether the religious vocation was his intended vocation. But he soon decided that he was meant to be a Jesuit, and two years later, he made the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

Bergoglio was ordained the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires on June 27th, 1992, when he chose his motto “Miserando atque eligendo” or “because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him” (Matthew 9:9-13). On June 3rd 1997, Bergoglio was named the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. One of his major reforms was to increase the number of priests working in the slums, leading to the nickname the “Slum Bishop”. He also started a new custom on Holy Thursday. Instead of washing the feet during mass, he chose to wash the feet of people in places such as jails, hospitals, retirement homes, and slums. This showed that he truly cared about all the people in the diocese, not just the more wealthy people who were able to come to mass weekly. He was then appointed a cardinal in 2001 by Pope John Paul II and soon became known for his personal humility and his commitment to social justice. He also chose to live a very simple lifestyle and lived in a small apartment, rode on public transportation, and cooked his own meals.

Cardinal Bergoglio was elected the first Jesuit pope at the age of 76. He is also the first pope from the Americas. On March 13th, 2013 he officially chose the papal name Francis. As pope, he has continued his humble lifestyle by living as simple a life as he can.

The media often portrays Pope Francis as a progressive reformer or as a liberal with moderate values. Time and The Advocate magazines named him as the Person of the Year in 2013 and in 2014 Forbes listed him in the top five most powerful men.

Pope Francis has reinvigorated the Catholic Church through his energy and his willingness to try new things. He even made a twitter, and was the most searched-for figure on Twitter. He has always placed an emphasis on simplicity as when he appeared in a simple white vestment and when he chose to live in a Vatican guesthouse instead of the usual Apostolic Palace. He appointed a new eight-man cabinet of Cardinals from outside the Vatican to essentially draw up the equivalent of a new constitution. He has made great strides in reforming the Catholic Church, and has mentioned that he will continue to review certain aspects of the church. In a time when the Catholic Church is facing a lot of criticism, it needs someone like Pope Francis to reform it and bring it back on its feet.

Audrey Hepburn

For this post, I will be sharing the inspirational story of a famous British actress, Audrey Hepburn.  Although she might be better known for her roles in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn was also known for her work for charity.  She has been remembered as a fashion icon of her time, and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women.

Audrey Hepburn was born in Belgium on May 4th, 1929.  Her parents divorced due to conflicting views over the Nazi party when she was only six years old.  She later said that the divorce was the most traumatic incident of her life.  She and her mother moved to Arnhem in the Netherlands because they thought they would be safe from Nazi invasion.  However, in 1940, the Netherlands fell under Nazi control until 1945.  During the occupation, she saw her uncle and other family members shot in the street by the Nazis and train loads of Jewish children being deported.  During the war, she suffered from anaemia, respiratory problems, and edema.  This left a lasting effect on her, and her malnutrition during th war continued to affect her throughout her life.

When she was first getting into acting, Hepburn played several minor roles in films until she was noticed by a director in 1952 who helped get her name out through the film “Roman Holiday”.  This film helped to establish Hepburn’s talent, and allowed her to continue to have roles with many of the leading actors.

Audrey Hepburn was very popular during her time due to many factors.  She was always naturally beautiful and had an aura of innocence.  She was highly regarded in the film industry and was often voted the most beautiful woman of the century.  Even so, Hepburn never allowed her fame and popularity to change who she was.  In 1961, she played on of her more famous and demanding roles of Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  She considered it one of the hardest roles for her to pull off due to the extroverted nature of the character, which contrasted to her more introverted nature.  She auctioned off her “little black dress” from the film, and the $.5 million dollars it sold for was donated to one of her charities.

After fifteen successful years of acting, she began to move away from acting and spent more time with her family and working with UNICEF.  She was a special ambassador to UNICEF, and was actively involved in many campaigns to improve the conditions in which children lived around the world.  She visited street children in South America and was appalled at the conditions in which they lived.  This experience sparked her involved participation in UNICEF and her generous monetary  donations.  She passed away after a year-long struggle with colon cancer in January 1993 at the age of 63.

Audrey Hepburn’s life is very inspirational to me.  She lived through very hard times during her early life and saw things that children should never have to see.  But even though she faced that, she went on to become one of the most widely respected women, and used her fame to give back to others to help children in similar situations to her childhood.  For this reason Audrey Hepburn will forever remain an icon in the United States, England, and around the world.

Nelson Mandela

Today I will be discussing Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who was the President of South Africa. He was also the first black chief executive and the first one elected in an election that was fully democratic. His government focused on tackling institutionalized poverty, inequality, and racism. He was President of the African National Congress party from 1991 to 1997 and President of the country from 1994 to 1999.

Nelson Mandela was born in July 18th, 1918 in Mvezo in Umtata. He was given the name “Rolihlahla” meaning “troublemaker” in his early years. Mandela has stated that his younger life was ruled by “custom, ritual and taboo”. He studied law at Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand. After the apartheid was established in 1948, Mandela became prominent in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and in 1955 was appointed the superintendent of the Transvaal chapter and presided of the the Congress of the People. He was frequently arrested due to seditious activities and was almost prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. He was initially committed to non-violent protest, but in 1961 he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe and lead a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. The press referred to him as the “Black Pimpernel” in reference to the 1905 novel “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Emma Orczy and the police put out a warrant for his arrest. The following year he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

After serving almost thirty years in prison until a international campaign succeeded in lobbying his release in 1990, which escalated civil strife. He then negotiated with the Nationalist President, F. W. de Kleck in order to try to establish multiracial elections and to abolish apartheid. In 1994, he became South Africa’s first black president. The following year he published an autobiography. He invited other political parties to join his cabinet and drafted a new constitution. In addition, he created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to investigate human rights abuses. His administration introduced means to combat poverty, expand healthcare services, and encourage land reform while continuing the country’s liberal economic policy.

Outside of South Africa, he served as a mediator between Libya and England during the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial while overseeing military intervention in Lesotho. He chose not to run for a second term and became an elder statesman. During this time, he focused on charity work to combat poverty and HIV/AIDS through his Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Although Mandela was a controversial figure throughout a lot of his life and was even denounced as a communist terrorist, he still earned international praise for his activism. He received multiple awards and honors for his activism, including the Soviet Order of Lenin, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. He is still deeply respected in South Africa, and is often described as the “Father of the Nation”. His life will continue to impact South Africa for years to come.

Queen Elizabeth I of England

Today I’m going to write about Elizabeth I, the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.  She ruled from November 17th, 1558 until her death on March 24th, 1603.  Elizabeth I was also known as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, and Good Queen Bess.  The period during her reign is known as the Elizabethan era, and is known for the many successful adventures of Sir Francis Drake.  It was also famous for the growth in popularity of theatre led by William Shakespeare.  She is known for being a charismatic performer and a survivor during a time in which the government was not very strong or powerful and when many other monarchs in other countries were faced with numerous internal problems that were jeopardizing their thrones.

Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace to Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn. At the moment she was born, Elizabeth I was the heiress presumptive to the throne of England.  However, she lost her place in the line of royal succession after her mother was executed as a means to allow Henry IV to remarry to try to produce a male heir.  Elizabeth I was well educated and was fluent in multiple languages.  By the time she had completed her formal education, it was widely accepted that she was one of the best educated women in her generation.

Elizabeth’s father, King Henry VIII, died in 1547 and after a series of successors with short reigns, her half-sister, Mary I, was declared queen.  Mary was extremely unpopular due to her religious beliefs, while Elizabeth was seen as a sign of hope for their future leader when Mary’s reign ended.  Because of this, Mary tried to find a way to put Elizabeth on trial and have her killed.  However, Mary decided against it and after her death in 1558, Elizabeth was named Queen.  Although Elizabeth was a Protestant, she chose to be much more tolerant of Catholics and did not persecute anyone based on their religion, contrary to her sister’s actions for which she gained the nickname “Bloody Mary”.  In addition, Elizabeth chose not to marry and became quite famous for it.

By the end of her reign, she was praised as the head of the Protestant cause and the leader of a golden age.  She gained an inflated image and reputation as a leader during a time of factionalism and military and economical difficulties.  Her reign was praised for its unity in crown, church, and parliament, and had a lasting influence.  She is famous for the defeat against the Spanish Armada and other successful raids against Spain.  She succeeded in Ireland, and she was often idealized by leading people as someone who always made the right decisions.

I included Elizabeth I because I admire how she handled the obstacles she had to overcome as one of the first Queens of England and her desire to give people second chances.  In a time when most women in line would have picked a husband to help them rule, Elizabeth was her own authority.  In a time when others would have had someone executed, particularly when that person was a threat to their rule, Elizabeth allowed them to live, as in the case of Mary Queen of Scots who she imprisoned in a large castle with her own personal staff.  She also allowed people to worship in whichever religion they wished, which was uncommon at that time.  Elizabeth I was widely respected by her subjects and had a lasting influence on England.

Joanne Rowling

So for my next blog post, I will be writing about a pretty well known author, Joanne (Jo) Rowling. Most widely known as J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, Rowling thought of the idea for the best-selling book series in history on a train ride in 1990.   This series of books went on to win multiple awards and sell over 400 million copies. But how did the daughter of an aircraft engineer and science technician become one of the most popular authors in the world?

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling and Anne Rowling in Yate, Gloucestershir, England, just north of Bristol. Her parents first met on a train departing from King’s Cross Station, the same station Rowling used as the gateway to the Wizarding World. As a child, Rowling would often write fantasy stories which she would then read to her sister. In her early teenage years, her aunt gave her a copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography, Hans and Rebels. Mitford became her hero and she read every book Mitford wrote.

As I mentioned before, Rowling came up with the idea of Harry Potter while on a delayed train ride. As soon as she reached her house, she began writing the first book in the series. Unfortunately, Rowling’s mother died before she could tell her about her idea. This loss heavily affected Rowling’s writing, as seen in the detail around the emotions Harry Potter feels about the loss of his parents.

Rowling finally finished the first draft of her first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, in 1995. The book was finally published in 1997. The following three years saw the release of three more novels. The final book in her seven book series was published in 2007, ten years after her first novel. The last chapter in that book was one of the first part of the series she had written, demonstrating that she always knew how the story was going to end.

In 2004, Forbes named Rowling the first person to become a billionaire by writing books, and the second richest female entertainer. However, Rowling lost her billionaire status because she donated immense amounts of money to charity; over $160 million. In 2013, she was named as the thirteenth most powerful woman in the United Kingdom.

In addition to the Harry Potter series, in 2011, Rowling announced her book, The Casual Vacancy, which was also very popular and was made into a television series. She also wrote other books under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Her first book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, received many positive reviews. When it was discovered that it was actually written by Rowling, sales rose by 400 percent.

As implied by the loss of her billionaire status due to her donations to charity, it is clear that Rowling often gave money to charity. Rowling helped raise money for the International Fund for Children and Young People in Crisis. She has also donated a lot for the research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, which was the cause of her mother’s death.

J. K. Rowling’s books have sparked the imaginations of children and even adults throughout the world from the moment of their publication. In addition, her many large donations to charity have helped benefit the lives of many. What makes her story incredible is that she once had to love on state benefits, but within five years, she became a billionaire (until she donated it to charity). She still has an incredible impact on many people today. Rowling was asked about the time that someone had told her that Harry Potter greatly impacted their childhood. Rowling responded saying that she was incredibly humbled by the experience and said that knowing that she had impacted someone else’s life in a positive way was the only thing she needed to be successful.

Mother Teresa

So this week, my blog post will be all about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa was born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu and, although she was born on August 26th in 1910, she considers her true birthday to be on August 27th, the day of her baptism. She was born in Skopje, which is the current capital of he Republic of Macedonia, but at the time, it was a part of the Ottoman Empire. She was the youngest child of Nikollë and Dranafile Bojaxhiu; however, her father passed away when she was only eight years old.

From a young age, Mother Teresa was fascinated by stories about missionaries and their lives, especially their service in Bengal. By the time she was twelve years old, she was convinced that she would commit her life to service and become a part of a religious order. She fulfilled her promise at the age of eighteen when she left home to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. That was the last time she ever saw her mother and sister. She chose to be tamed after St. Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries. However, since one of the other nuns in the convent had already chosen that name, she chose the Spanish spelling, Teresa. She took her vows on May 14th, 1937 while she was teaching at the Loreto convent school in Entally, Eastern Calcutta. Seven years later, she was named headmistress of the school.

On September 10th, 1946, Mother Teresa experienced what she called, “the call within the call” while she was traveling to her annual retreat. She realized that she needed to leave the convent to work with the poor in 1948 and began wearing a white cotton sari with a blue border. She received basic medical training at the Holy Family Hospital and became an Indian citizen before she started working in the slums. She started with a school in Calcutta, but eventually began helping the destitute and starving. One year later, she was joined by a group of young women who helped her. They became the foundation of a new religious order. On October 7th, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission to start the diocesan congregation that eventually became the Missionaries of Charity. Mother Teresa stated that its mission was to care for “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

This congregation that began with only thirteen members grew to encompass over 4,000 sisters who carried out its mission in their every day lives. She opened up multiple different homes in Calcutta including the Home of the Dying, a home for those suffering from Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, called the hospice Shanti Nagar, and the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan, the Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart, as a safe place for orphans and homeless youth.

In 1962, Mother Teresa received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding. In 1971 she was awarded the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize to commend her for her work with the poor, display of Christian charity, and efforts for peace. She later received the Pacem in Terris Award in 1976. In 1979, Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize for “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace.” She refused the ceremonial banquet and instead asked that the $192,000 that would have been used for the banquet be donated to the poor in India. After suffering for years with heart, lung, and kidney problems, Mother Teresa died on September 5th, 1997 of a heart attack.

Mother Teresa was an incredible woman who dedicated her life to the service of others. She always stood by her beliefs, regardless of how they were received, and continued her selfless work until she was physically incapable of doing so. Since her death, she has rapidly advanced along the path towards sainthood, and I have no doubt that she will complete that journey.

Raffaele Esposito

While my past posts have been about inspirational people who have been very successful and subsequently and donated substantial amounts of money to the poor.  Or if not that, I have blogged about someone who has very bravely stood up for a cause in which they believed.  Now, this person is a little different from those kinds of people.  While Raffaele Esposito has not earned an incredible amount of money and generously donated it to people in need, nor has he been forced to courageously risk his life for a cause in which he believes, he has affected our lives in a very different, yet still incredibly impactful manner.

Raffaele Esposito was born in Italy many many years ago.  He was the owner of a popular tavern.  His tavern was called the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi.  He owned this tavern during the nineteenth century.  Now I do not know if you have figured this out, or if you already knew, but Raffaele Esposito is widely considered to be the father of modern pizza.  Now let us take a step back in history to discuss what led Raffaele Esposito to earn this title.

The first time we know for a fact that the word pizza was used was in 997 AD.  This occured and in the town of Gaeta in Italy and then not long after in multiple different parts of Italy, especially in the central and southern areas.  Pizza evolved from the focaccia, which was a flat bread that was know by the Romans as “panis focacius.”  Romans added toppings to their focaccia, including olive oil or native spices, which is still seen in our pizzas today.  However, Italy’s version of focaccia, especially the focaccia from Naples which included tomato, cheese, and other toppings, became incredibly popular.

Now, here is where Raffaele Esposito comes in.  Raffaele Esposito was the most well-liked pizza maker in Naples and is credited with being the first person to make this pizza.  Since it was so well-liked, he was called to make one of his infamous pizzas for the visit of King Umberto and Queen Margherita of Italy in the year of 1889.  He prepared three different pizzas, one of which included tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil to look like the red white and green of the Italian flag.  Raffaele Esposito was so delicious that Queen Margherita sent him a letter stating that his pizzas were incredible.  Raffaele Esposito used her letter to promote his pizza and his restaurant.  He even named his pizza after the queen, “Pizza Margherita”.  This event supposedly created a widespread fad for pizza, which simply never went away.  It is due to Raffaele Esposito’s experiments with ingredients and his presentation of the dish for the queen that led to its popularity.  His restaurant still exists today; however it is now called Pizzaria di Brandi.  The restaurant still has Queen Margherita’s letter on display to commemorate Raffaele Esposito’s success.

While Raffaele Esposito may not have done something incredible like donate large sums of money or stood up for people’s rights, but he has affected our life in a different way.  He invented one of the most popular foods in America today, pizza.  And for that reason, I believe that Raffaele Esposito is someone who has added to our lives and deserves to be included in this list.



Malala Yousafzai

For years, there have been wars and oppression throughout the world. But each time there is oppression and lack of freedom in the world, there are people who stand up for what is right. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education who has repeatedly stood up for her beliefs, even when her life was in danger.

Malala Yousafzai was born in the Swat District in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She was born into a Sunni Muslim family of Pashtun ethnicity. Her first name, Malala, was chosen by her parents after a famous Pashtun warrior woman from southern Afghanistan. Yousafzai was fluent in Pashto, English, and Urdu, thanks to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, and his drive to educate all his children. He was an educational activist who ran a chain of private schools called the Khushal Public School. He always allowed Yousafzai to stay up late at night and discuss politics with him after her brothers went to bed. These late night discussions clearly had a major impact on her life because at age eleven, she began speaking up about education rights for men and women. Her first speech was at Peshawar, at a local press club. Newspapers and television channels throughout the region covered her speech.

Later that year, her father volunteered Yousafzai to be a journalist from the perspective of a young schoolgirl to document the Taliban’s ever growing influence in the area. Since the Taliban leaders were banning music, television, and the education of young women, Yousafzai’s father and some of his colleagues thought that having a young schoolgirl document the way her life was affected by the Taliban would expose their actions to the public. Yousafzai agreed, and her first entry was posted on January 3, 2009. She continued documenting these events until March, only two months later.

After the completion of her blog, a New York Times reporter approached Yousafzai and her father about filming a documentary. They agreed and she wrote about her move to the countryside. She also mentioned that she was very bored since she was not able to read books. She and her family later personally visited representatives from the United States to plead with the officials to help reinstitute the quality and equality of the education.

After her documentary, she was interviewed multiple times to publicly support education for women and young girls. She was then nominated the National Youth Peace Prize, the first nominee from Pakistan.

As she was more recognized, people began sending her death threats. In October 2012, she was shot in the first attack on her life. A member of the Taliban boarded a bus and said that if she did not identify herself, all the people on the bus would be shot. It was an immense testament to her character that when he announced this, no one told him who she was. Of course, she wanted to save the others on the bus so Yousafzai identified herself to the masked man and was immediately shot in the head, through her neck, and out her shoulder.

She was sent to the United Kingdom and eventually healed. This assassination attempt further brought awareness to Yousafzai and her cause and a petition was started with the slogan “I am Malala” that demanded that no child would be left out of school. She continued advocating for education and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at only 17 years.

I don’t think it requires much explanation as to why I chose to write about Malala Yousafzai. She began advocating for equal education from an incredibly young age was willing to sacrifice her life for the betterment of others’ lives. She proved to be selfless again and again as she continued to advocate for education, even after numerous death threats. Then when an attack finally occurred on her life, she healed and went right back to her cause.

Oprah Winfrey

When you hear the name “Oprah Winfrey”, several words come to mind. Successful. Generous. Empowering. Influential. Oprah Winfrey has had a notable impact on the lives of many people. Since she was born into a poor family in Mississippi, many people would have said that her opportunities would be limited. Clearly, she proved them wrong and has become one of the most influential people in the world.

Oprah Winfrey was raised by a single teenage mother in an inner-city neighborhood. She was originally named “Orpah” after the biblical character, but it was often mispronounced, producing the name, Oprah. For the first six years of her life, Winfrey lived with her maternal grandmother in a family so poor, that she was often forced to wear dresses made of potato sacks because of the lack of money. Her maternal grandmother taught her how to read before she was three years old, and although she was made fun of for the way she dressed, members of her church admired her and even gave her the nickname “The Preacher” for her ability to memorize and recite bible verses. When she was six years old, she moved to another inner-city neighborhood, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her younger half sister, Patricia, was born.

At a young age, Winfrey was molested multiple times by a family members and family friends. At the age of fourteen, she became pregnant, but her son was born prematurely and died soon after his birth. After years of abuse, she ran away from home. She was then sent to live with her biological father in Nashville, Tennessee, where he fathered her in a strict but encouraging manner, making her education her highest priority. Under her father’s parenting, Winfrey became an honors student and found that she excelled in speaking. She won an oratory contest, which rewarded her with a full scholarship to Tennessee State University, a historically African-American institution.

While in high school, she was noticed by the local radio station WVOL, which hired her to work part-time. She was later recruited to be a co-host on the local talk show, People are Talking. When she relocated to host AM Chicago, she changed the show’s rating from last place to the highest rated show in Chicago. She was then offered a deal to have her own television show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was an instant success.

Winfrey did multiple interviews with celebrities and starred is a few movies and television show episodes. All the while, her television show continued to become more and more popular.

Oprah became a millionaire at age 32 when her talk show first went national. In 2000, she was believed to be the wealthiest African American of the 20th century with a net worth of $800 million. Forbes’ international rich list listed Winfrey as the world’s only African American billionaire from 2004 to 2006 and as the first African American woman billionaire in world history. She has also been named as arguably the most influential and powerful woman in the world.

Not only does Oprah have an exceptionally inspirational story, but also she chooses to give back and share her success to others who are in the position that she once was. Since she was once poor, she understands the plight of many of the people who live in poverty and she chooses to share her wealth and help everyone to alleviate their suffering. For this reason, I think that she is an incredibly admirable person. I believe that people should aspire to be like her, not because she is successful, but because she is known to be an extremely generous person.

Bill Gates

So for my first post, I have decided to write about Bill Gates.  Although he has had multiple accomplishments throughout his life, he is most well known for co-founding Microsoft Corporation.  But how did he go from being a normal student in Washington to becoming one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in the computer industry?

Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington to a middle class family.  From a young age, Bill Gates showed an immense interest for computers and technology.  In eighth grade, when his school bought a computer for the students, he was immediately overcome with an interest in programming the system in BASIC.  Gates wrote his first program on that computer, a game of tic-tac-toe that users could play against the computer.  He also found a way to manipulate bugs in the operating system to provide him with free computer time.  After he was caught and banned from the computers, he offered to find bugs in the software in exchange for extra time to use the computer.

Gates studied code for various programs, thus setting the tone for his future endeavors.  It was during this time that he first met Paul Allen, the future co-founder of Microsoft, and worked with him on multiple projects.  Gates attended Harvard University and spend much of his time using the computers and working with Paul Allen.  He chose to drop out when he and Allen were successful in the release of the MITS Altair 8800 to concentrate on their new computer software company, Microsoft.

Gates worked hard to ensure that Microsoft was successful.  He not only oversaw all the business details, but also he reviewed every single line of code during the first several years.  As Microsoft developed, Bill Gates worked even harder to expand the range of products his company produced.

In 2006, he announced a major transition in his life to dedicate more time and effort to promoting the welfare of others and donating some of his money to multiple different charities.  He has donated most of his money toward fighting diseases and reforming education.  During the recent Ebola epidemic, Gates donated $50 million to fight the outbreak and prevent the spread of the disease across Africa.  As of May 2013, he has donated almost $40 billion to charities around the world, and he has stated that he wants to donate another 95% of his wealth to charity.  Not only is he generous, but he has also been very humble about his generosity.  He has stated that his donations are not impressive.  Instead, it is much more impressive when people give to charities, even though it is a sacrifice to donate.  In a conversation he stated that, “…there are people who have to choose, do I go out to dinner? Or do I give this $20 to my church? That’s a very different decision than I make. Those are the people that impress me.”

Bill Gates has been successful in many different ways.  He discovered his passion for technology at a very young age and he knew that he had to focus on that passion, even if it meant dropping out of one of the most prestigious universities.  He was also a wise businessman who was able to start and run his own company at a very young age.  But the real reason that I think he is a man to look up to is through his generosity.  He could have kept most of his money, or simply donated less.  Instead, he has donated enough money to be voted number one on Forbes’ list of the top givers in America.  He really has made an incredible impact on the lives of so many people, and it is for this reason that I consider him to be among the most influential people in the world today.