Just yesterday, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates both announced on Twitter that they were separating after 27 years of marriage. After the split, Melinda Gates could be worth over $73 Billion. She’s already the world’s fifth most powerful woman and the second American to make the Forbes’ The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list. The couple assured in their tweet that the separation won’t affect their foundation.
Let’s look at Melinda Gates’ life and career a little.
She grew up in Dallas, Texas. Her mother was a stay-at-home wife and her father was an aerospace engineer. She had three siblings and the family belonged to the local Roman Catholic parish.
She was the valedictorian and even head of the drill team at her high school, The Ursuline Academy of Dallas. She didn’t forget her roots and in 2007, the Gates Foundation donated $7 million to Ursuline for the construction of The French Family Science, Math, and Technology Center. The center was around 70,000 square feet of laboratory and classroom buildings certified by LEED Gold.
Melinda then earned double bachelor’s degrees in computer science and economics from the Duke University. She also did an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business in just five years. Guess she was a scholar through and through.
Aside from being a scholar, she was also part of a sorority. She was a member of the Duke’s Beta Rho chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. A sorority sister once remembered her as a monogamist and a very reserved dresser.
Aside from funding the French Family Science Center, Melinda Gates also funded the University Scholars Program and the DukeEngage Program. She served as one of the Duke trustees from 1996 to 2004.
Melinda joined Microsoft just shortly after graduation. The company had gone public just then and soon their stocks began to soar high. She served as a project manager and worked on projects like Expedia, Microsoft Bob, and Microsoft Encarta.
Melinda and Bill started dating when Bill asked her out during a company picnic. They kept a low profile at work. According to Melinda, the couple’s first trip to Africa in 1993 was the turning point in their lives. They decided to do something about the situation there and thus they made the Gates Foundation.
The couple married in 1994 after seven years of dating. Melinda gave birth to three children in 1996, 1999, and 2002. According to Bill, the kids won’t inherit their parents’ billions. “We want to strike a balance where they have the freedom to do anything but not a lot of money showered on them so they could go out and do nothing”. Almost all of the children have also been to Africa to learn how to give back to society and those less fortunate.
In 2014, the couple gave a speech during Stanford’s commencement. Melinda gave advice on charity and giving back to society. She said that “Let your heart break. It will change what you do with your optimism”.
Melinda has been taking many domestic and world issues head-on. She’s been the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the last 15 years. In 2016, Melinda was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Obama. It is the highest civilian award in the US, for her work in health and poverty in America and other countries.
Melinda Gates has reminisced about her life a lot and even described the legacy she wishes to leave when she is gone. She said that “On the day I die, I want people to think that I was a great mom and a great family member and a great friend. I care about that more than I care about anything else”.