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The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Questbridge selects 3 CVHS seniors to be matched with the nation’s top universities

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Roxell Bonilla
Carnegie’s three Questbridge Match Scholars, Israel Garcia, Sasha Cabral, and Ishaan Sanghvi (left to right), posing with their finalist acceptances.

On October 18th at 3:10 PM, CVHS senior Sasha Cabral let out unbridled cries of joy in the middle of her Spanish class. Meanwhile, after school, fellow senior Israel Garcia decided to find his way to the school’s balcony, sit down, and patiently wait for his mother to pick him up. However, his silence was interrupted by an unexpected phone call. As he raised his phone to his ear, he listened to the other end of the line say,

“Not sure if you’ve seen it, but congratulations on winning the Questbridge scholarship.”

National Questbridge finalist results had just been announced, and five Carnegie seniors were going to be celebrating for the rest of the night as they now knew that they were one step closer to earning a full-ride scholarship to a top university. Questbridge recently named five Carnegie seniors as finalists for a full-ride scholarship to a high-ranking university: Elliot Choi, Ishaan Sanghvi, Israel Garcia, Sasha Cabral, and the fifth who wishes to remain anonymous. 

In the last 28 years, Questbridge has selected thousands of qualifying students to receive a full-ride scholarship through a national college match program. The merit-based scholarship provides the security for many low-income students and families to attend a top university at no cost. This non-profit organization supports these students as they progress through their collegiate careers and enter the workforce and its opportunities. 

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Being named a finalist is no small feat for these students. The selection for the scholarship is extremely competitive, requiring an impressive GPA (average for the 2023 finalist was 3.92), an abundance of extracurricular activities and achievements, and a high school career filled with late nights and tireless days. In 2023, 6,683 students were named finalists out of over 20,000 total applicants, thus proving the competitiveness of the scholarship.

“Especially going to Carnegie, being privileged, we are pretty prolific with all these AP classes,” said Sanghvi. “I actually heard about Questbridge through Emerge. It’s another program for low income students, first-gen students.”

However, AP classes and extracurricular activities come with work that does not do itself. Keeping up with a busy, disciplined lifestyle can be stressful, but with the right motivation, these students were able to keep their eyes on the prize. 

“I had strategically planned it out for my freshman year, [thinking] ‘What major do I think I want to do? What extracurricular should I do?’ and I [would] need to have as many years of involvement as possible, because the longer you’re involved shows more dedication that I wanted colleges to be able to see in me,” said Cabral.

Going into the application process, the students wanted to show dedication by taking their time and doing their research on the schools, taking weeks and sometimes months to perfect their applications.

“I know that I spent a lot of time on the application. So, I know that it’s not like imposter syndrome because I know that there’s no way I could have gotten it if I didn’t deserve it. I could have been doing other stuff at that time, but it didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything because I would be getting so much out of it,” said Elliot Choi.

As any motivated high schooler does, these finalists had ways to get themselves through the challenges of the process, whether that was reminding themselves of their futures, their friends and families, or of the ambitious students they are.

“It’s mostly to get my mother out of the situation of how she lives. Basically, not perpetuate the way that we’ve been living. So that was the main reason I wanted to be able to finance my own education, through a scholarship,” said Garcia.

Garcia isn’t the only student who was largely motivated by supporting their family by winning the scholarship.

“Questbridge would make it a possibility for me to go [to a university] and not have to worry about money. I have so many other siblings that are going to need to go to college. So if I can take that burden off my family, then it’s really good,” said Choi

The students were matched with one of their top 5 schools from their self-curated lists sent to Questbridge. Cabral will be attending Yale University, and Garcia and Sanghavi will be attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Fall of 2024. Choi did not match but will continue as a regular decision scholar. Nevertheless, the Questbridge process, along with their high school careers as a whole, has taught these scholars invaluable lessons that will last far beyond their collegiate years.

“Think about where you genuinely want to go because you’re the one living your life,” said Cabral, “Not your dad, not your grandma, not your sister. You’re the one living your life, so make sure that where you’re taking yourself is where you actually want to go and make decisions based on that. It’s okay if you change your mind; that doesn’t mean you wasted time, because you learned from that.”

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About the Contributors
Audrey Piczak, Opinions Editor
Current senior and Opinions Editor, Audrey Piczak, has been a writer for the Upstream News for two years. However, her love for writing has been in her life for much longer than that. Audrey also loves to write poetry, songs, research, and anything else she can write about. She plays nine instruments, but her favorite is the cello. Her favorite musical artist is Phoebe Bridgers, but her top artist of 2023 was Drake, which makes for an interesting mix.
Roxell Bonilla, Sports Editor
Roxell is a senior at CVHS. She loves sports of all kinds, especially soccer and volleyball, and even runs some sports clubs here at Carnegie. She also loves frogs, with the cute tree frog being one of her favorites. She has three dogs and four cats at home—one of which is named Kiwi.
Daniella Lopez, Staff Writer
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