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Meet our 2017 CollegePoint Scholars! (Part 2)

CollegePoint provides free virtual college advising to high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students nationwide.

Thirty CollegePoint students from the high school Class of 2017 were selected to receive scholarships based on their stellar academic achievement and completion of key CollegePoint milestones. The scholarship, supported by the Thompson Family Foundation and Bloomberg LP employees, is a last-dollar award designed to cover unmet costs for students at their institution of choice. These students, who represent fourteen states, will be enrolling in 25 of the top colleges and universities nationwide this fall.

Last week, we profiled the first 10 of our CollegePoint Scholars. Read about them here.

Below, we have profiled our next 10 recipients! In two weeks, we will profile the final 10 CollegePoint Scholars.

Hanaa Aldasouqi- Davidson College

My name is Hanaa Aldasouqi, and I am the middle child of two immigrants from the Middle East. I have two older sisters, one younger sister, and one younger brother. I was born in El Paso, Texas and have lived here for almost all of my life. I attended Coronado High School, where I was a part of the International Baccalaureate Program, the speech and debate team, the mock trial team, and a local student-run organization dedicated to engaging the youth in politics and in community matters called WE(fillintheblank).
My college application experience began in the spring of my junior year when my high school counselor called me into her office and nominated me for QuestBridge as a College Prep Scholar. I began asking for letters of recommendation, gathering my family’s financial information, and writing essays immediately. It consumed much of my time that spring but eventually paid off, as I was selected as a College Prep Scholar and as a National Match Finalist a few months later. Since this journey began early for me, I thought I would be well ahead of my classmates in completing this process by the beginning of my senior year, but handling other financial matters such as the CSS Profile was a completely different story. Since neither of my older siblings had used the same applications, programs, or forms that I was now required to use, I had little assistance in understanding my responsibilities in fulfilling these requirements.
This was where CollegePoint was most helpful. Having an advisor I could text questions to, even if most of my college application experience was almost over, was invaluable. With my advisor, Abby’s, help and the support of my teachers, family, and friends, I was accepted at Davidson College with a four-year full ride scholarship. Furthermore, I appreciated the continued support I received after I committed to my college: even after my “application process” was over, my advisor was extremely helpful with monthly check-ins, scholarship suggestions, and advice for school registration and budgeting. Though scholarship money I receive from this organization may be helpful, the intangible help and support I received over the past few months was indispensable and for what I am most grateful.

Ian Burke- Wheaton College

My name is Ian Burke and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. My family moved to the United States from Argentina when I was three years old. I will be attending Wheaton College, in Illinois, this fall and plan to focus primarily on Business Economics. In the future, I aspire to have a career that allows me to travel internationally. Applying to colleges and scholarships was, in short, a challenging but developmental process. I was constantly paying attention to deadlines, writing and rewriting essays, investigating colleges, applying for financial aid, and researching opportunities. Wrapping my mind around this multitude of requirements, in addition to school and extracurriculars, was a daunting task. However, my CollegePoint advisor was always available, providing me with a better understanding of the application process, holding me accountable to tasks and deadlines, reviewing my essays, and identifying scholarships for which I might be eligible. More importantly, my advisor would listen to my plans and ideas and give me advice on how I should proceed. On my own, the college process seemed unnerving; however, my communication with my advisor and reading his advice in the emails he would send me, helped me navigate the process more effectively and smoothly. Without my advisor’s support, I would have disregarded important information, been unaware of how I could take advantage of the opportunities that were available to me, and been more overwhelmed by the taxing process of applying to college.

Onyul Hague- University of Michigan

My name is Onyul Haque, and I am from Galloway, New Jersey. I was born in California, but my family moved to southern New Jersey when I was six, and I have been living there ever since. My family is diverse. I have to admit that I am much more connected to the Guatemalan side of the family. When I lived in California, my only family members in close proximity were those from my mother’s side of the family. Unfortunately, every member of my father’s family lives across the Atlantic ocean in Bangladesh.

My relatives in California were extremely religious, so I grew up in a household and social environment that strongly preached Christian values. I was never a fervent believer, but I would identify myself as a Christian. It wasn’t until two years ago that I really began to question the moral and factual credibility of Christianity and decided I am atheist. In the interim, I read atheistic and religious literature and watched many religious debates between experts on scripture and science. I made sure I had the sufficient knowledge to make an informed decision about my atheism.

Simultaneously, I discovered my passion for analyzing the human mind. While I was never consciously cognizant of my interest in what makes people tick, it was clear from the type of literature I would read (Hobbes, Dubois, Plato, Dostoevsky). Therefore, I chose to pursue a career that devotes itself to understanding people: psychology. Following this path means reading a lot of the literature, listening to lectures from the most prominent psychologists online, and taking classes in high school that will give me a stronger foothold in this field, such as AP Biology. In addition to this interest I enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, playing guitar, going to the beach and playing volleyball or swimming. At the end of the day, my biggest aspiration is to research the human mind as a professional psychologist.

The college application process was a mix of confusion and procrastination. I never fully understood what it was that a university was looking for in an application or how to construct a well-developed one. I asked my teachers and fellow classmates, but I only received broad advice. CollegePoint provided me with all the resources necessary to submit a great application. My coach was a professional who fully understood the entire application process. She was always accessible and was able to clear up any obscurity. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for CollegePoint.

Michelle Katemauswa- Duke University

Hello! I live in a small town on the outskirts of Houston, TX called Webster. Though I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, my mother and I moved to the States when I was just a baby, and I’ve been raised here ever since. Growing up, my mother always encouraged me to do my best, study hard and find something about which I’m passionate. During a medical internship I had junior year, I discovered a latent passion for women’s health– a passion I plan to further explore during the next four years by double majoring in Women and Gender Studies and Global Health, and completing my prerequisites for medical school. Someday, I want to work in improving women’s health standards across the world, likely as an OB/GYN.
Honestly, if you had asked me during my junior year which college I wanted to go to, I probably would have said either Johns Hopkins or Vanderbilt, but all of that changed last summer when my mom got the “great idea” of doing a roadtrip to Canada! (I say great idea in quotes because honestly, that was the longest road trip of my life, it was fun, but I never want to do it again.) During that trip we visited a few colleges, and at some point, my mother got another “great idea” of stopping by Duke. Frankly, Duke was NOWHERE on my list. Even though I was at the top of my class, I had severe doubts about my ability to get into a top-tier college like Duke, so I didn’t even think about it. Luckily, my mom believed in me, so she dragged me to campus, and the rest is history. Even after visiting other colleges, nothing could compare to Duke and I knew by the time we got back home, Duke was the one.
Obviously, finding the right college was only the beginning of the battle. I still had essays to write, recommendations to get, and applications to fill out, but with the amazing help of my CollegePoint advisor and some great teachers at my school, college application season was manageable. Though I knew I wanted to go to Duke, I was really worried about my chances of getting in and the costs, but my advisor at CollegePoint helped me realize that going to Duke could be more than just a fantasy, but a reality. Ultimately, I applied to a grand total of 3 universities: two local colleges, and Duke via early decision. With all the help, I managed to make it into my dream school!

Michael Li- New York University

Hi there! My name is Michael Li and I am from New York City. I am from an Asian-American family of four: my parents, my sister and me. Since I was young, I have been particularly infatuated with digital games (especially Pokémon) and cool techy gadgets. In fact, my earliest memory of childhood entertainment was Pokémon Red on the Game Boy. As I grew older, this fondness encouraged me to follow the path of Computer Science. As a hobby and as a way of reinforcing coding skills, I develop small mini-game projects like Snake, Tetris, Tic-Tac-Toe, Minesweeper and the like. In the imminent future, perhaps you will find me as a software engineer! My college application experience was, in a single word, hectic. Just think about it: potential applications, Common App, transcripts, recommendations, interviews… you name it. Ugh, just thinking about it makes my head spin! In the very beginning, I only had two schools in mind – New York University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With the help of CollegePoint, I applied to multiple well-known Computer Science colleges. With each application came numerous supplements and countless essays. CollegePoint helped me stay on top of deadlines for the numerous parts of the application process and provided me with a lot of helpful advice. Then came March 30th – the ambivalent date! This marked when I could make the choice. Financial issues were one of my biggest concerns – I was this close to giving up when CollegePoint called. Thank you for making New York University possible.

Bryan Marin- Claremont McKenna College

When it came time to sending out my applications, CollegePoint had an extreme influence on how I handled the process. Without the guidance of my CollegePoint counselor, Shannon, I would not be enrolled in the college which I am today: Claremont McKenna College. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle filling out so many applications while keeping up with all of my extracurriculars and academic responsibilities. Not only was I able to have a successful last year as Class President, but I was also able to graduate as Salutatorian of my class without letting college applications get in the way of my goals. I got into a dream school of mine and could not be happier with my college decision and scholarship package. This August, I will be one of four students from my high school attending college out of state. I am moving to California from Florida to pursue a degree in computer science and finance thanks to the assistance I received from CollegePoint throughout the year and in the form of my scholarship.

Bonnie Woo- University of California, Berkeley

Hello! My name is Bonnie and I am from Monterey Park, California, which is just outside downtown Los Angeles. I have lived in California all my life, and this fall I will be attending the University of California, Berkeley. My parents are Chinese immigrants, and both of them are proud to say that I am the first in my family going to college. I worked hard to achieve this distinction. In high school, I was involved in several academic teams: Math Team, Science Olympiad Team, and Zero Robotics Team. For Zero Robotics, our team performed very well and entered the final stages of the competition, which gave us the opportunity to travel to Boston and allowed our code, that we developed for months, to be sent on the International Space Station. Being Math Team captain and a member of these teams for 3-4 years each expanded my knowledge and appreciation for math and science. In my free time, I enjoy watching cat videos, making origami, and gardening. Following college, I hope to attend grad school and become a female engineer.

My experience with college applications has been rather smooth. I had support from my teachers and my high school counselor who helped me with my essays and college major choice. I was also part of Questbridge, which helped me to get my recommendations completed very early in the process. CollegePoint was a great way for me to learn about my college options and to receive reminders about important deadlines. If it wasn’t for CollegePoint and my coach, I would not have known about this scholarship nor would I have the understanding I had during my college applications. I would like to thank CollegePoint for all the support and wish the other CollegePoint Scholars good luck with their futures!

Rebecca Zeng- University of California, Berkeley

Applying to colleges reminds me of a game of sidewalk Hopscotch: throwing a rock and not knowing where it will land. As a first-generation university student, I held my rock bewilderedly as my experienced peers deftly skipped forward. However, having grown up in the suburban city of Alhambra, CA where many Chinese and Hispanic immigrants live, I learned from the diligent adults around me that my success is not hindered by any factors other than my own inaction. A majority of the immigrant adults in my community arrived in the U.S. without any money or English-speaking abilities, and their success stories, which were based on hard work and pushing forward regardless of obstacles, motivated me to pursue my dream of higher education despite any challenges. With this independent mindset, I learned to love the game regardless of my inexperience. Through my parents’ support and my CollegePoint coach Emily’s guidance, I quickly learned the steps to the game: toss a stone onto a block and then hop towards it. Once the stone landed on my destination, the University of California at Berkeley, my mentors steadied me from tripping and reminded me of practical deadlines and dues; college acceptance is just the tip of an iceberg of housing payments, health forms, and scholarship applications. After officially committing to the university, paying deposits, and meeting future classmates, I aspire to give back to my mentors and teach others how to play the Hopscotch game that is college applications.

David Zhao- Tufts University

Hello! My name is David Zhao and I’m from Daly City, a suburb near San Francisco. I was born in China but I immigrated to the United States when I was four years old. I’m literally made in China. Since then, I’ve enjoyed numerous hobbies that include but are not limited to: playing games, watching anime, and running. Other than that, I like to keep up with the news and see what’s going on in politics. Frankly speaking, my family is impoverished but luckily for me, my parents work incredibly hard and have ensured that I’m able to live a comfortable “normal” life. Most parents act as role models for their children, hoping that they can one day emulate their successes. However, my parents always told me the exact opposite. Instead, they wanted me to rise above them and see them as mistakes to avoid rather than as role models whom I could look up to. I was never good at listening to my parents, so of course, I would always reject this. It’s safe to say that they’re my biggest inspiration in my life and that they’re the reason why I truly value my education.

During college application season, I was completely lost. Essays were beyond me and I had no idea where to begin. Fortunately, I had many resources to aid my struggle. CollegePoint and Questbridge did an amazing job guiding me through the college application process. I can’t thank my mentor Elliot enough for answering all my questions and reassuring me along the way. Having CollegePoint as a resource made me feel that I was on a level playing field with everybody else. Above all else, CollegePoint made me feel that it was alright for a nobody like me to continue dreaming.

Jennifer Zheng- Hunter College

My name is Jennifer Zheng and I was born in Brooklyn, NY. My parents are both Chinese immigrants who haven’t received any higher level education, but work hard to make sure I do well in school and that I am a healthy child. I am very interested in both science/medicine and law, so I want to pursue a JD-MD degree in my future years at school. I understand this will be a hard thing to achieve, but I am willing to put in the time and effort. The whole college application process was not as stressful as I thought it was going to be, mainly because I used some of my free time in the summer to fill out most of the applications. With CollegePoint, I felt the program was helpful at clarifying parts of the process I was confused about and being a source of support, especially when I received admissions decisions. I would like to sincerely thank CollegePoint for providing guidance on the college process throughout the past year.