HAMMOND — It didn’t take long for Bishop Noll senior David Mendoza to do the math.
“Only 6.4 percent were able to get a full ride,” he said after finding out he and fellow Noll classmate Rebecca Vazquez had received a full scholarship from the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship program, which connects high-achieving, low-income high school seniors to the nation’s top colleges. This year, the program received 16,249 applications and selected only 1,044 students.
“Knowing that I am about 1 in 16 is just crazy, and it is an honor to receive this honor,” said Mendoza, of Hammond, who was matched to Swarthmore College, which has an 11 percent acceptance rate.
College Match Scholarship recipients are admitted early to QuestBridge college partners with guaranteed, full four-year scholarships provided by the colleges and universities, ensuring these students and their families that an education at a top college can be affordable.
The St. John Bosco alum plans to major in engineering and minor in Spanish.
“I am excited to meet new people and experience a new environment. I’ve lived in Chicago all my life, and I just want to experience something new for the next four years.”
Mendoza said Dostatni and math teacher Mark Miller were two of his inspirations at Noll.
Vazquez, also of Hammond, was matched to the University of Chicago, which has an 8.7 percent acceptance rate. The St. Casimir School alumna burst into tears when she heard the news.
“Now, I’m just in disbelief. It doesn’t feel real, and it was never something that I thought I would be able to accomplish.”
She plans to study biology and may pursue a career as a researcher or physician but is keeping her options open.
“I can’t wait to make new friends at UChicago and participate in the social events. I’m also excited for my future classes; hopefully, they’ll be super interesting.”
At Bishop Noll, she enjoyed her science classes and was also inspired by Dostatni, whom she says always worked to get students involved in biology programs in and outside of Noll.
Vazquez said her main inspiration in pursuing the scholarship was her family.
“I wanted to make my parents proud and give my siblings someone good to look up to. I feel like I’ve done that.”