Paty’s Quest for Excellence in the Bahamas

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Paty Calderon, 2016 College Prep Scholar and Quest for Excellence Award Winner

When Paty Calderon applied to the College Prep Scholars Program last year, she received a full scholarship to a summer program through the Quest for Excellence STEM Award that took her on an amazing journey of discovery and learning in the Bahamas. Read Paty’s story below!


Upon researching the QuestBridge summer programs awarded to College Prep Scholars, I was amazed by the opportunity of researching with the Island School in the Bahamas. I have always been very passionate about the environment and how marine life is affected by human actions, so the Island School was the perfect place for me to engage and learn with my surroundings through important research I really cared about. Continue reading

Summer Service Grant | A Community-Based Approach to Breast Cancer Prevention

In summer 2016, Nathaniel Tran (Tufts ’17) explored his interest in public health by researching the barriers preventing women from receiving a basic screening mammogram, particularly in the Boston area. Through Nathaniel’s hard work and many collaborations, the project was able to bring mobile technology to patients, create a sense of community in healthcare, and empower women through health education.


I had just finished speaking with an appointment coordinator at one of the nearby medical centers. She was calling to let me know that a patient had missed her mammography screening appointment, making that the 4th patient to miss so far this week … and it was only Wednesday. What was causing so many women to “no-show” for their mammograms? I work in Boston, Massachusetts, which is home to three academic medical centers, and there is no shortage of medical providers.

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Attending and presenting at a health fair at a new potential partner site.

This summer, I made it my goal to better understand the nature of these missed appointments by conducting interviews with community health center patients. Through demographic data, I found that the center serves primarily low-income, underinsured women of color. From the interviews, common themes in our conversations suggested that a combination of a language barrier, poor public transportation, fear of cancer, and loss of potential income prevented these women from following through with their mammography screening appointments. Continue reading

A Look Back on 2016 Match Stories…

As 2016 comes to a close, we want to take a look back on some of the great moments from the 2016 National College Match. This year, 5,338 high school seniors were selected Finalists, and 767 students were matched to our college partners — both record numbers that are definitely worth celebrating! But the individual stories of each student are truly what make 2016 a great year for us. Check out some of the reactions from our recently matched students:

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“When I was matched I was speechless. I felt as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders for the next four years of my academic career. I stared at my phone in disbelief, but also in confidence because I knew that this was my prize for all the hard work and dedication I put in during these four years of high school.”

Mazie A., Williams College, Class of 2021 Continue reading

Summer Service Grant: Cultivating Tension and Conflict on the Irish Stage​

This summer Irina Gavrilova (Yale ’17) spent time in Dublin, Ireland, studying the role of Irish theatre in shaping the country’s conception of nationhood. With the #WakingTheFeminists movement for gender equality in Irish theatre as her case study, Irina spent a month in Dublin researching and interviewing students, artists, managers, and designers to learn more about this unique intersection between art and politics.


As a theatre director with a keen interest in politics, I am fascinated by the connection between the two, which I set out to investigate this summer. With a focus on the #WakingTheFeminists movement for gender equality in Irish theatre, the goal of my project was to make a case that knowledge and skills acquired through theatre can and do produce an impact on the political stage. The material I gathered during this project will serve as research for an original play I plan to present at Yale next spring.

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The All Performing Arts Conference in Galway where many members of #WakingTheFeminists participated as panel speakers

Irish theatre and nationalism have gone hand in hand since before the country’s independence from Britain; the electrifying synergy between the theatre and its public inspired people to interrogate their national identity, initiating a struggle for independence. It has always been the place where, as scholar Martin Esslin puts it, the nation “thinks in front of itself”— a statement that rings especially true this year. Continue reading

Summer Service Grant | Teaching in West Bengal

As an aspiring physician with an interest in health disparities, Mariely Garcia (Bowdoin ’17) cares deeply about making quality healthcare services and knowledge available to all people. This summer, Mariely received a Summer Service Grant from QuestBridge to work with a grassroots organization in the small Indian town of Gorubathan to put her passions into practice.


mariely-garcia4When I said the final goodbye to my mother before heading to the airport, I will admit that I started to panic. It was the kind of panic that sent my heart into total pandemonium, made me exceptionally fidgety, and brought a million doubts to mind. Sitting in the taxi, watching the familiar New York City skyline zoom past in the distance brought me to the realization that the next time I was on land, I would be on the other side of the world. Continue reading

Summer Service Grant | Blue Notes Under Red Banners: A Summer of Soviet Jazz

In summer 2016, Ryan Gourley (Brown ’17) received a Summer Service Grant from QuestBridge to pursue his project: Jazz behind the Iron Curtain: Preserving the Legacy of a Forgotten Generation of Musicians. Through his research, including visits to jazz hubs in the former USSR and Eastern Bloc, Ryan aimed to preserve the jazz music culture from this era while exploring his own interest in the topic.


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Ryan Gourley (Brown ’17) in Saint Petersburg, Russia

The relationship between national identity, cultural identity, and musical practice pervaded my thoughts as I traversed my way through Western Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania this summer. My research had me in search of the remnants of a time when the production of jazz was a national issue; a time when an invisible iron curtain split the European continent between those who lived under red banners and those who did not. Continue reading

Universe of Possibilities: A Visit to NASA

In August 2016, 11 QuestBridge Scholars had the unique opportunity to meet face-to-face with officials at NASA and the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. Vi Nguyen, a QuestBridge Scholar and Yale University alumna, reflected on the visit to NASA:


Six people.

“At this moment, there are only six people in space? In total?” I re-asked my question, mostly out of sheer wonder. Our guide nodded with a smile, “Yes. Six.”

The 11 QuestBridge Scholars—eight current undergraduates and three alumni—sat around the table in NASA’s Space Operations Center, taking in the experience, unsure whether six human beings were too few or many more than we expected to be living beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

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QuestBridge Scholars at NASA

Continue reading

Finding Your College Fit: Q&A with QuestBridge Scholar Daniel Espino

Daniel Espino, QuestBridge Scholar, Vassar ’18
Daniel Espino, QuestBridge Scholar, Vassar ’18

Ranking up to 12 colleges is what makes the National College Match unique from other college application processes. But with 38 college partners to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start your research and how to narrow down your list.

Daniel Espino (Vassar ’18) ranked colleges for the National College Match, and learned a valuable lesson that he’s passing along to this year’s applicants:

How did you choose schools to rank? Based on your experience, do you have any advice for students on deciding which schools to rank?

In the 17 years prior to having to apply to college, 99.999% of my life had been spent in the Southwest. My first time ever being on the East Coast was actually during the fall semester of my senior year, when I applied to a fly-in program and was flown to D.C. for a night (that was also my first time ever flying). Because of this, I didn’t know if I wanted to leave the comfort of familiarity that I had on the West Coast. This prompted me to make the decision to only rank the four schools that didn’t require me to make the commitment of attending if I was matched.

Looking back, I realize that this cut my chances of getting a guaranteed scholarship by half, and knowing that now you can apply to up to 12 schools, I would recommend to take advantage of this opportunity you have been given and apply to as many schools as you can.  Continue reading

Words of Inspiration from the Class of 2020

The 2016 National College Match application deadline is right around the corner! To help applicants in the final push, we asked QuestBridge Scholars who were matched in the 2015 National College Match to share their advice. Here’s what they had to say…

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Juan O., Rice ’20 – Liberty, Texas

 

“Just do it! There is nothing to lose and the world to gain! It is worth the time, the effort, and the emotional stress involved.

Don’t let yourself or anyone else discourage you from applying to your dream college because you never know what life may have in store for you.Continue reading

Presidential Scholar Danielle Newton’s Path to Princeton

Danielle Newton, 2016 Presidential Scholar & QuestBridge Scholar, Princeton '20
Danielle Newton, 2016 Presidential Scholar & QuestBridge Scholar, Princeton ’20

In the 2015 National College Match, QuestBridge nominated 10 Finalists for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes some of our nation’s most distinguished high school seniors. Four of our nominees received this prestigious honor: Liana Wang (Yale ’20), Calen Firedancing (Williams ’20), Danielle Newton (Princeton ’20), and David Zuluaga (Princeton ’20). 

We spoke with Danielle to get her perspective on her visit to Washington, D.C. for the awards ceremony, and how the National College Match helped her on her path to Princeton:


On being recognized as a 2016 Presidential Scholar

How did you react to the news of being selected as one of only 160 Presidential Scholars  nationwide?
When I received the email that the final selection had been made for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, I had already told myself that I wouldn’t be chosen. I was competing against students who had scored 36’s on their ACT’s — teenage geniuses — and I felt like I had no chance. So when I opened the email and found out I was selected, I was unimaginably shocked, and I couldn’t get a smile off my face. I immediately called my mom, hardly making coherent sentences through my intense happiness and surprise as I realized I would have the incredible opportunity to visit the nation’s capital. Continue reading