Finding Diamonds in the Rough: QuestBridge Program.


QuestBridge winners Carl Olivier Estime (SY) and Pedro Cena (SY) engage in a game of chess while Marcilio Soares and Guitze Rodriguez spectate from the couch. Estime (left), Soares (SY) (middle left), Rodriguez (PG) (middle right), Cena (right)

Demar Munroe, Online Editor

As of 2018, only thirty-six percent of African American and Latino students enroll in higher education past high school. White people have a forty-two percent rate of enrollment, and Asian Pacific Americans have the highest, at fifty-nine percent. The former number is distressing. While many factors go into not getting a higher education, one of the biggest factors is the price. The cost of admission, student loans, and living necessities can be overwhelming for most. Price is a deterrent for many people who go to school in underdeveloped communities–case in point, St. Benedict’s Prep (SBP).

In the city of Newark, with a dominant minority demographic, students from schools like SBP are not expected to make it to college. Most students are either Black or Hispanic, making it statistically unlikely they will ever make it to college. With the majority of students at SBP not paying full tuition, the expenditure of college would, in most cases, be a deal-breaker. This is where the QuestBridge Scholarship Program comes in.

“But what is QuestBridge?,” one may ask. QuestBridge is a scholarship program that specializes in helping students from low-income families find the best colleges for them. This program has changed the lives of over 10,000 students, giving them many opportunities they never would have dreamed of. Just this past year, five students from SBP were finalists in the program, and four received scholarships to UPenn, Northwestern, and even Yale. Gray Bees such as Guitze Rodriguez (SY), Carl Olivier Estime (SY), Pedro Cena (SY), and Marcilio Soares (SY) have earned full rides to their desired colleges.

Especially for students where college is not normally an option, this program is a godsend. The average QuestBridge scholar comes from a household that makes less than 65,000 dollars annually, even less from a household of four or more – similar to the situations many SBP students face. However, remember, QuestBridge is not a charity. While the program’s goal is to serve underprivileged kids, it is also for those who will commit and be successful in college. To be considered for the program, the applicant must have a minimum of five activities. One will compete against hundreds of other students with the same drive for success as you. A main component of success in this program, college, and life after, is perseverance. No other school gives you more mental fortitude than SBP. By the time a student applies for Questbridge, they will have completed the Overnight, the Trail, and the Water Adversity Challenge (WAC).

The ball is in your court. You have all the tools necessary for you to succeed. All one must do is put the work in and apply themselves, and you can lessen that financial load that most QuestBridge applicants face. Not everyone will get in, but a chance not taken is an opportunity lost. The application process is by no means an easy one but, with the resources provided by the college guidance office students can take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.