YES Prep Public Schools
Samantha Ramirez

We are excited to share that 14 YES Prep seniors were selected as QuestBridge Scholars by 10 of the most competitive colleges and universities in the United States, through QuestBridge’s National College Match Program. These YES Prep seniors make up 14 of the 6,683 National College Match finalists selected from over 20,800 applications nationwide. We are also excited to share that this is YES Prep’s fifth consecutive year with 10 or more QuestBridge Scholars!

QuestBridge is a national nonprofit that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities. By working with these students — from high school through college, to their first job —QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented students from under-resourced communities attending the nation’s best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their careers and communities.

The National College Match is a college admission and scholarship process through which qualifying high school seniors can be admitted early with full four-year scholarships. Match scholarship recipients are granted early admission to one of the QuestBridge college partners, with a scholarship to meet the student’s full financial need. 

Presenting YES Prep’s Class of 2024 QuestBridge Scholars

Brisa Morales, YES Prep Brays Oaks Secondary

Brisa Morales has matched with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. It is unquestioned that Brisa is an academically gifted student. She was the only junior in AP Biology and higher-level math courses compared to her peers. Her teachers describe her as “attentive, dedicated, intellectual and empathetic.” Morales has maintained a top position in her class while being an active member of Latinx Student Association, Senior Council, Guitar Club and the National Honor Society. During the summer of her junior year, she participated in a hospitality program at the University of Houston and took the SAT unprompted. She always strives to do her best and be the best she can be. 

Morales plans to pursue Biomedical Engineering at Washington University. Her dream is to make cancer treatments and healthcare affordable and her family inspires her to fulfill this dream. She’s has been a pioneer in the Brays Oaks community and there is no doubt she will continue to break barriers at Wash U.

David de la Cruz, YES Prep Gulfton Secondary

David de la Cruz has matched with the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana. During his time at Gulfton, he has excelled both academically and beyond the classroom. De la Cruz has showcased his diverse talents in various clubs, including Student Council, Engineering Club, Manga Club and Chess Club—where he holds the top-ranking position. Additionally, he represented YES Prep as a district nominee for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), earning the opportunity to study the Korean language and culture in South Korea last summer. He attributes much of his success to the transformative experiences provided by YES Prep, allowing him to step outside his comfort zone and grow in numerous capacities.

De la Cruz plans to pursue a degree in neuroscience as a pre-med student. Born with a congenital birth defect necessitating extensive medical care, David is inspired to become a doctor and provide patients with the same quality and compassionate care he received growing up.

Leydy Lopez, YES Prep Gulfton Secondary

Leydy Lopez (she/her), or lovingly referred to as Leafy, has matched with the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana! During her time at Gulfton Secondary, Leafy has secured the number one spot of her senior class but it is her successes outside of the classroom that have molded Leafy into who she is today. She embraces her intersectional identities through her involvement in Latinx Club and serving as President in Culture Club (LGTBQIA+). Although Leafy is not the loudest in the room, her empathy and love for her peers speaks volumes for her.

With the luck of the Irish, Leafy will pursue a degree in Psychology, letting her never-ending curiosity drive her passion to serve others in ways they sought growing up. Leafy is destined to excel in her next journey at Notre Dame, due to her perfectionist academic tendencies but most importantly, her innate nature to be the leaf for any individual’s rose as they blossom.

Jasmine Hluz, YES Prep North Central Secondary

Jasmine Hluz has matched with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She has proven to be a shining example of resilience, determination and intellectual curiosity. Jasmine has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to academic excellence, personal growth and service to her community. Her meteoric rise in class ranking, from approximately #7 in her sophomore year to #2 by her junior year, is a testament to her dedication and tenacity. Her willingness to take intellectual risks and adapt to challenging circumstances have contributed significantly to this achievement. Her interests in architecture and computer programming have led her to embrace various opportunities, from attending coding camps to participating in architecture programs at prestigious universities. These experiences have not only solidified her career aspirations but also prepared her for the rigors of higher education. Hluz's dedication to service is evident in her extensive volunteer work at the Museum of Fine Arts, local elementary schools and her involvement in the Folkloric Dance program at Baker Ripley, a community center in the Aldine neighborhood. These experiences have enriched her life and positively impacted those she has encountered. Her ability to connect with others, foster inclusivity and lead compassionately is commendable. As the president of Women's Empowerment, she has strived to ensure that every member's voice is heard and valued.

Ashley Onate, YES Prep North Forest Secondary

Ashley Onate has matched with Scripps College in Claremont, California. Ashley is the Valedictorian of her graduating class and an active member at North Forest. She represents the school as a Legend Ambassador giving tours to prospective students, staff and families. Onate also advocates for her class as a member of the Senior Council. She helps plan and complete service projects through the National Honor Society and her leadership is most notable in her job. She has maintained her impressive academic record all while being involved and working outside of school. While Ashley has earned impressive accolades, the humility she carries herself with is what stands out the most. She is always willing to help others and is a family-oriented student. Onate is proud of her accomplishment in matching through QuestBridge and recognizes the individual access to opportunities she will obtain, her family and home campus cannot wait to witness all she will accomplish! 

Ashley has explored many interests such as psychology, business, law and nursing, but ultimately hopes to pursue a degree in business and work for a company whose work aligns with her values. Ashley’s long-term goal is to pursue a law degree to represent and advocate for the rights of her community.

Diego Turrubiartes, YES Prep Northline Secondary

Diego Turrubiartes has matched with Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Turrubiartes embodies the true spirit of the Northline Revolutionaries. This extraordinary young individual has not only defied the odds but has also emerged as an inspirational figure for his peers. His match to Dartmouth marks a groundbreaking milestone for both him and Northline Secondary. His journey is a testament to resilience, determination and the transformative power of education. Despite facing adversity due to the unexpected closure of YES Prep Eisenhower at the end of his junior year, this young scholar exhibited unwavering determination. Going from being the salutatorian to a top-performing student at Northline did not deter him; instead, it fueled his passion to rise above the challenges. Upon joining the Northline community, he not only adapted but also became an integral part of the school community. As a member of the Senior Leadership Council and the Dance Team, he exemplified versatility. His interests span across physics, engineering, English literature, and dance, reflecting a rare blend of analytical prowess and artistic flair. The story of this resilient scholar is a testament to the transformative power of education and the unwavering support provided by YES Prep Northline in nurturing the potential within every student. 

Adrian Araujo, YES Prep Southeast Secondary

Adrian Araujo has matched with Stanford University in Stanford, California. Araujo is described as a "one in a million" student, excelling in academics, sports, music, dancing, leadership, faith and family.  During his junior year, he spent the summer in Colorado with the High Mountain Institute, engaging in backpacking and disconnecting from technology before embarking on a trip to South Africa with the School for Ethics and Global Leadership. In Johannesburg, he honed skills in policy making, public speaking and advocacy work.  Adrian is involved in various activities, such as being a trumpet player on the band, member of the Cross Country and Soccer team, a dancer on the Yaxche Folklorico Dance Team, a volunteer with the Cathedral of Saint Matthew and is currently running for President of the Sociedad Honoraria Hispanica.

Adrian plans to pursue a degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering while seeking a holistic and diverse education at Stanford.

Austin Domonic Avalos, YES Prep Southeast Secondary

Austin Avalos has matched with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Avalos exhibits exceptional leadership, ambition, goals and work ethic, setting them apart in a remarkable way. He possesses a positive outlook, always seeking ways to enhance every environment they encounter. He is currently involved in many activities on and off campus: Senior Class Vice-President, co-founder of the Supporting Homeless and Resource Efforts (S.H.A.R.E.) program, a program that hosts nonprofit events on campus and donates the money raised towards partnered homeless organizations across Houston, co-founder of Fundraising the Future for YES (FFY), co-founder of the Greater Green Organization (GGO), a local environmental protection and improvement service that performs clean-up services in the South Houston area, co-Leading S.T.E.M. Club, Honor Graduate at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership, Mi Familia Vota Advocate, Member of the National Honor Society, Student Government, Debate Club and Chess Club. In addition to his vast involvement on campus, Avalos is taking eight advanced placement courses, learning how to speak Mandarin and Arabic and is in the process of writing a book.

Austin will be studying Biomedical Science and will be minoring in Public Policy. He hopes to change both science and law-making policies and will not rest until his legacy has been firmly established in both fields.  

Brenda Elisa Bermejo, YES Prep Southeast Secondary

Brenda Bermejo has matched with Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. She is a natural paradigm shifter and excels at prompting deep and critical thinking in others. Passionate about literature, Bermejo actively contributes to maintaining the school library as a safe space, valuing access to books as a privilege. Outside of being a bookworm, Brenda is extremely sociable and is a member of the soccer team, cross country team and varsity cheer squad. In 2023, she was given a leadership award for her work on the Junior Student Council and was also awarded as Student of the Year in her AP Psychology course and nationally recognized by College Board. Outside of school, Bermejo works as a balloon artist in South Houston. She often raves about the challenging shapes she has successfully put together, like flowers and giraffes, all made out of balloons!

Brenda will be pursuing a future in Journalism with the commitment to change the world with her words. She will be an amazing addition to the Jumbo family and to the field of Journalism. 

Victor Palacio, YES Prep Southside Secondary

Victor Palacio has matched with Rice University, right here in Houston, Texas. It is a rarity these days to find a high school student that is constantly challenging themselves and the students around them, but Victor consistently strives for excellence in and outside of the classroom. Palacio exhibits a natural sense of maturity and leadership. As the oldest in his family, he is consistently a positive role model to his siblings and aims to make his family proud of his accomplishments. He has participated in many school events that have given him the opportunity to address his fellow classmates and currently serves as the Secretary on the Senior Class Council. This past summer, he spent his free time volunteering at the Houston Food Bank and participated in higher education writing workshops to perfect his craft.

With this opportunity, Victor plans to immerse himself in Rice University’s Creative Writing program to become a College Writing Professor and eventually a published author.

Ashley Mendez, YES Prep Southwest Secondary

Ashley Mendez has matched with Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Mendez is currently ranking at number one on campus with a 4.5 GPA. She has been a great asset to the Southwest community through her involvement in Folklorico, Spanish Honor Society, Student Council, Southwest Ambassadors and Queer Student Association. She has been able to use her talents in these various organizations all while keeping her grades a priority. Ashley plans to pursue a degree in international studies during her time at Northwestern.


Gustavo Machin Kairuz, YES Prep West Secondary

Gustavo Machin Kairuz, also know as Tavi, has matched with Stanford University in Stanford, California. Tavi's journey as a first-generation college student has been shaped by his resilience and determination to overcome challenges, particularly his experience of learning English as a young child transitioning from Cuba. He has embraced adversity and utilized available resources to grow as a scholar. His commitment to personal development is evident through his participation in semester programs such as the High Mountain Institute and The School for Ethics and Global Leadership in London, highlighting his fearlessness in embracing challenges and taking risks. In addition to his academic pursuits, Tavi has dedicated a significant portion of his time to playing the viola. His perseverance and commitment to honing his musical talent have been demonstrated through annual recitals and performances at school events, including the graduation ceremony. Machin Kairuz is also a member of the West cross country and track teams. Overall, his journey showcases his resilience, academic dedication and leadership qualities.

Tavi has developed a deep passion for combating global warming and he is determined to begin making a difference within his own community. For this reason, he plans to study Environmental Science.

In addition to the remarkable scholars mentioned above, we would like to recognize the following award recipients from YES Prep East End Secondary: Vanessa De Leon Diaz, who matched with Rice University, here in Houston, Texas and Nizi Resendiz, who matched with the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While we don't have detailed bios for them at this moment, their achievements undoubtedly contribute to the excellence of their school community.

Congratulations, scholars!

Congratulations to our QuestBridge scholars on seizing this incredible opportunity. Your dedication and effort have truly paid off. A heartfelt thank you to our college counselors for their guidance, preparation and encouragement, shaping our students into the best versions of themselves. To our scholars, as you embark on this next chapter, we extend our best wishes for success and fulfillment.

For families interested in learning more about QuestBridge and the National College Match, click here.

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