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Meet our 2017 CollegePoint Scholars! (Part 1)

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. Below, we’ve profiled the first 10 recipients. Tune in next week as we profile the next 10 awardees.

Jacob Clark- Swarthmore College

As junior year of high school ended, I knew that in just a few months I would have to begin applying to college–but I was quite uncertain in how to go about it all. Luckily, that summer I   would be attending Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA), a 7- week program aimed  at helping disadvantaged students through the process of applying to college. There, with the  help of college guidance counselors, professors, and ACT/SAT tutors, I and 99 other students  were given resources to make the college application process all the more comfortable. I went  into LEDA very reluctant and scared to explore schools outside of my state as well as to try to  strengthen my existing college application, and I came out of LEDA with only two in state schools  out of the 11 on my list and with a college application impressive to admissions counselors across  the country. Coming from a single-parent, low-income, and first-generation background, I am  very grateful of LEDA and also of programs like CollegePoint for all the resources I have been  given. Focusing on CollegePoint, as soon as I got a flyer advertising the program and the resources it provides for high-achieving, low-income students, I applied, and I was so thankfully offered mentorship. My CollegePoint coach kept me up to date on all sorts of scholarships and always offered advice on topics from my college list to financial aid. One of my biggest fears going through the college application process was that I wouldn’t be able to afford going out of state, something that I have had my heart set on since the summer before my senior year, but the CollegePoint scholarship made that dream possible for me. I am so excited to be attending Swarthmore College, a school I have been in love with ever since I visited it last summer, this fall.

Ningjing Chen- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

When I first moved to the United States three years ago, I felt like a complete stranger to this country because English is not my mother tongue. As a new immigrant who wants to receive higher education in a renowned institution, I paid careful attention to time management and tried to make progress every day. Although I had a hard time polishing my supplement essays as English is my second language, I still believed that I could do well in my college application as long as I have a good attitude and keep up the hard work. Unfortunately, I was rejected by my dream schools which I applied to as Early Decision 1&2. I could hardly put my feelings into words. Sadness and disappointment were like turbulent waters that keep pushing me back to the starting point. Calming down with a sober mind was the most effective remedy at that point so I switched my focus from anxious awaiting to academic work. I actively prepared for Science Olympiad competition with my team members and took 11th place at the Forensic event. As a girl who loves science and desires to gain a deeper understanding through further study with unfading passion, I believe there is a school that can help me to achieve my dream — to become a great engineer. The good news came in early March when I found out that I was accepted to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, one of the most prestigious engineering colleges in the United States. I would like to thank my CollegePoint advisor who had inspired me with support and encouragement. I still remember that when we talked over phone after the results Early Decision 1&2 came out, she comforted me and encouraged me to keep doing my best. I cannot be more grateful for my advisor’s help all this time. I couldn’t have gone this far without the efforts she has put into my college application process. I feel extremely excited and so proud of myself. I can’t wait to start the new journey which I’m sure will be amazing!

Thomas Dix- University of North Carolina

Hi! I’m Thomas Dix, born in Los Angeles, California, but raised in Currituck, North Carolina. I have been in 2 or more band classes every year since Freshman year (including Marching Band), and have participated in numerous District bands over the years. I wanted to be a music major up until Junior year of high school when I took Marine Biology, and realized my passion for learning about the intriguing lives of squids, bugs, and other alien-like organisms. After applying to several Universities renowned for good biology programs. I received the best comparative financial aid from UNC, but even with the low cost of attendance there was still a lot of money I had to make up. I knew I wouldn’t find out about most of my scholarships until after the enrollment deadline, so I prayed that God would provide for all my college needs, and planned to make my deposit in Faith. The very day before I paid the deposit, God answered my prayer and I was selected as a winner of the CollegePoint scholarship, which promised me a full ride by covering remaining costs of college! I am thrilled that I will be financially worry free in college as I discover what makes life itself tick..

Prangon Ghose- Stonybrook University

Hello! I am Prangon. I am originally from Bangladesh and I currently live in New York City. I love exploring the city, especially its many ice-cream shops and historic landmarks. From Castle Clinton in Battery Park City to the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park, it’s a journey that is filled with many brain-freezes and snaps. Outside of discovering new parts of the city, I love coding and working together with my friends to build games and apps. Going into the college application process I was extremely nervous because I am the first person in my family to apply and attend an American college. My parents attended college in Bangladesh and had high expectations for me. Adding to that was the fact that my high school is crazy about college with almost every student trying to get into the top institutions. My CollegePoint coach helped me organize myself and provided me with important information about the process, especially financial aid. Not only that, my coach was always there to talk to me which I really needed after the rejection letters started to come in. In the end, I decided to attend the school that I believe will allow me to succeed by providing me with the right academic and social environments. Now, in college, I hope to not only fulfill my parents’ expectations, but those of my own to become a successful engineer.

Adrian Lopez- Duke University

Hello! My name is Adrian Lopez. My family is from the Dominican Republic but they moved to the United States before I was born. I hope to get a MD/PhD in economics and provide quality healthcare and economic expertise to areas in need (for example, I could go to a country and help them with their economic situations while I provide low to no cost health care in my free time). My college application process was strenuous but I had a lot of great support from organizations such as CollegePoint and Questbridge. CollegePoint especially helped me a lot by guiding me in the right direction as to choosing which colleges to apply to and most importantly, by giving me the confidence to apply to my dream school (Duke) as an early decision applicant. I am really humbled by the service that they provided for me, and I especially found it really inspiring because when I grow up I want to do a lot of good for those in need and CollegePoint helped me while I was in need. I would like to thank CollegePoint again for everything!

JunHyuk (Joseph) Oh- University of California, San Diego

My name is JunHyuk (Joseph) Oh. I am from Incheon, South Korea, and moved to South Pasadena, CA in 2009 where I stayed since. I’m from a family of four, a younger sibling who is in middle school. Outside academics, my biggest interest is in music, which I explored in the high school’s marching band, and continue to expand it while volunteering in praise leadership at church. My aspiration for the future is to work in the biology research field under microbiology, discovering new vaccines and fighting disease in the front lines. My college application process was rather rough. None of my parents nor family members went through the college application process in the U.S., thus could not aid me in essays, nor financial aid applications. While I was flexible to discovering the new process of applications, I still stumbled along the way having to answer essay questions to express myself to the fullest. CollegePoint aided me in the parts that I could not read up on, nor simply ask a past senior, being the second guidance counselor “on demand” via text and email. My CollegePoint coach reviewed the essays and forms with me, and also recommended me paths (possible colleges to explore, forms, scholarships) to consider that were beyond my parents’ and my scope. Having the CollegePoint coach to view my documents for proper notations, grammar, and clarity really helped my process of presenting myself to the colleges of my choice.

Kenmunto Okindo- Duke University

Hello, my name is Kemunto Okindo and I graduated from Elkton High School in Elkton, Maryland. Next year I will be attending Duke University and will major in mechanical engineering. In the future I hope to use my degree to work towards bringing technology to underprivileged areas around the world. During high school, I graduated in the top 5% of the class and participated in multiple student and community service organizations as well as playing tennis and field hockey. In my free time I enjoy playing the flute, trumpet, euphonium, and piano in various ensembles and teaching music lessons. I love learning to play new instruments and hope to learn many more in the future. In my spare time I also love hiking and traveling with friends and family. Over the course of my junior and senior year, CollegePoint has been extremely supportive in helping me navigate the college application process. I would like to give special recognition to my adviser Alida who helped me write essays, pick colleges to apply to, find scholarships, understand financial aid and more. This opportunity and scholarship were very valuable to me especially as a student from a low income family. As you know the last two years of high school can be very stressful and CollegePoint made it a lot easier to navigate.

Frosilda Pushani- University of Michigan

My name is Frosilda Pushani and I was born and raised in Athens, Greece. After living in Athens for seven years, my family and I won the VISA lottery where we got to immigrate to Michigan and eventually become citizens, making my goals of finding success much easier as I moved to the land of opportunity. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and finally high school my work ethic and tenacity only grew. I pushed and continue to push myself each year in order to achieve each goal I set for myself. I recently graduated from Sterling Heights High School and the Macomb Mathematics Science and Technology Center where I was forced to learn how to persevere in difficult situations. Senior year was by far the most memorable year for me. The beginning of the year was overwhelming as I applied to many colleges hoping I’d get accepted into my dream school— the University of Michigan. The whole process itself was stressful but having a set plan eased the entire situation. As December rolled around, I would wear Maize and Blue (UMich colors) everyday for a week until my decision finally came. Once I got accepted, I knew I found the place where I would spend my next four year. My main goal in high school, however, was to reach that #1 spot. Beginning freshman year, I moved a spot up in the rankings every year, until, senior year I officially became class valedictorian. Additionally, senior year I also participated in original research involving silver nanoparticles where I won second place in my category at the Science and Engineering Fair of Metro Detroit and also received a professional award by ASM international, a material science organization. Now, I chose this research because of my passion for medicine and I’ll continue exploring this passion at UMich where I will be majoring in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience on a premed track. I would have never expected my life to change so drastically eleven years ago, and I have CollegePoint, my family, and so many others to thank for it. CollegePoint allowed for me to be more than confident when applying to colleges. My CollegePoint coach eased all my worries and answered any and all questions, including mine and my parents. I loved knowing that no matter what, I’d have some kind of support. What I do know though is that I will always follow my heart, I will achieve my goals, and I will find success through each obstacle I face.

Matthew Singer- Case Western Reserve University

I am Matthew Singer. I live in Oviedo, Florida with my parents and four siblings. My dad works as an RV technician specializing in electrical component. As a child I wanted to become a doctor, as I grew up I shied away from patient contact. With my interest in medicine and in my father’s work, I decided to major in Biomedical Engineering, a combination of the two. I hope to develop new technology to improve peoples lives. My college application experience was long, tedious, and a bit challenging. The hardest part was writing the essays while meeting deadlines for all the schools I applied to. CollegePoint helped immensely by giving me a lot of information to narrow down the schools I applied too and informing me of other schools that I had never heard of before.

Manami Suenega- Stanford University

To see “Congratulations!” on my Stanford portal, I felt as if my biggest dream was realized. Yet, this good news wasn’t just mine to celebrate. It was for my parents, who worked tirelessly day and night at our local Japanese grocery to support our family. It was for my older siblings, who taught me the power of education. It was for my mentors at CollegePoint and QuestBridge, who encouraged a random girl from Dublin, Ohio to dream big. One month later, I eventually decided to commit to Stanford, despite not even once visiting campus. This is because I firmly believe that who we are determines our happiness in college, not which college we attend. To any high school senior reading this, my advice to you is to never underestimate yourself. You are one in 7.5 billion, and that makes you unfathomably unique, beating out any college admissions rate.