By working with these students—beginning in high school through college and to their first job—QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation's best colleges. Partner schools include top liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Pomona and Williams and exceptional research universities such as Duke, Princeton, Stanford, UChicago, and Yale. In nearly thirty years, QuestBridge has helped thousands of students gain admission with full scholarships (or general financial aid) to QuestBridge college partners.
Loyola Academy College Counseling Department Chair Mr. Mark Porcaro worked closely with Rachel throughout the lengthy application process, which included interviews, webinar sessions, and a separate, unique application for QuestBridge. "Rachel is one of the most mature, bright, and dedicated students I have ever worked with," says Porcaro. "I first met Rachel a few months after she transferred to Loyola her junior year and could tell immediately that she was someone who would thrive in a program like QuestBridge."
Porcaro explains that Rachel did extensive research on all of the schools in the program and focused on a handful that met her needs. "She is a perfectionist who would often work right up until a deadline to ensure she was producing her best work. This was a bit nerve racking for me," he adds, "But Rachel would simply smile and say, ‘Don't worry, Mr. Porcaro, I got this.'"
QuestBridge announced that this year’s competitive applicant pool was nearly 18,000. Of these applications, 5,613 finalists were selected for consideration for a coveted QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. Ultimately, QuestBridge’s 48 college partners matched with 1,755 scholarship recipients.
"These bright and motivated students have a determination to succeed that will help them thrive well beyond their college years, and we’re excited to see where their dreams take them next," said the co-founder and CEO of QuestBridge, Ana Rowena Mallari, in a statement.
This year's Match Scholarship Recipients come from 49 states and the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.
These outstanding high school seniors have an average unweighted GPA of 3.94, and 94% are in the top 10% of their graduating class. Around 94% come from a household with an annual income under $65,000, and 88% qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. The majority of this year's Match Scholarship Recipients — 80% — are among the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college in the United States.
Match Scholarship Recipients are admitted early to QuestBridge college partners with full four-year scholarships that are provided by the colleges and universities, ensuring for these students and their families that an education at a top college can be affordable. The Match Scholarship is offered as part of a generous financial aid package provided by the college that covers the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.
"I have enjoyed all of my classes at Loyola in distinct ways," she says. "Each of them has been essential in making me a more well-rounded student. This year, I have particularly enjoyed my AP Calculus BC and AP Spanish Literature courses even though they are totally different from one another. AP Calculus has definitely been challenging, but it has been an exciting and rewarding process to see how the concepts can be applied to real-world situations, especially in engineering. AP Spanish Literature is also a stimulating class, but in a completely different way. As the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants, it makes me proud to delve deep into Latin American art, literature, and culture in a classroom setting for the first time."
By taking a wide variety of classes, Rachel says she has developed an appreciation for interdisciplinary approaches to global issues, which immediately drew her to Boston University and its honors program. "They offer so many unique academic and research opportunities that combine my interests in both STEM and the humanities."
Outside the classroom, Rachel has been involved with UniDos, Architecture Club, Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica, National Honor Society, INSIGNIS, and DICE. Through Campus Ministry, she has volunteered at Centro Romero, where she taught ESL courses to Spanish-speaking immigrants. Rachel participated in the University of Notre Dame's Global Scholars Program and took a course about environmental conservation and sustainability. This past summer, she completed a six-week calculus and college writing program at Amherst College through Thrive Scholars.
"I am extremely thankful for all of the opportunities that were presented to me at Loyola," says Rachel, who transferred in at the beginning of her junior year. "Much of the success that I have achieved in this past year and a half has been thanks to the amazing support system I have encountered. I am especially grateful to my counselor, Ms. Hecht, for being one of my biggest supporters and advocates throughout my time at LA. In fact, I opened my QuestBridge decision with her and Mr. Porcaro in the counseling office."
With Ms. Hecht and Mr. Porcaro, Rachel then called home to tell her family the good news. "It was such a fulfilling experience for me to hear the joy and excitement from her family on the other end of the line," says Porcaro. "They know that this opportunity is likely to change the trajectory of Rachel’s life. Boston University will soon learn what we already know: Rachel is someone special who simply makes the lives of those around her better."
More about the QuestBridge scholarship program can be found at https://www.questbridge.org/about