YES Prep Public Schools
College Initiatives team

This fall, thirty-five seniors from seven YES Prep secondary schools were selected as QuestBridge finalists. We are excited to share that twelve YES Prep seniors were selected as QuestBridge Scholars by eleven of the most competitive colleges and universities in the United States, through QuestBridge’s National College Match Program. These YES Prep seniors make up 12 of the 1,755 National College Match finalists selected from over 17,900 applications nationwide. Together the students have received scholarship offers, worth over $2.4 million dollars! 

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 2023 QuestBridge Scholars

Itzel Romano, YES Prep Brays Oaks Secondary 

Matched with Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri 

QUESTBRIDGE - Itzel Ramos, Brays Oaks

Itzel is constantly curious! She looks for ways to expand her understanding of the world wherever she can -- whether she is double enrolling in science classes this year to pursue her passions, watching YouTube videos about infrastructure in other countries or traveling to see how and why people live the way they do.   

Itzel is involved in the Cavalier community, both and outside the classroom. This year, she not only maintained her high standing in her class but also started the Brays Oaks LatinX Student Association (on top of maintaining her active membership in GSA). Itzel makes a positive, lasting impression wherever she goes, and Washington University at St. Louis will be no exception!  

Itzel will be studying Environmental Engineering at Wash U in the fall! 

Yesenia De Leon, YES Prep East End Secondary 

Matched with Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts 

QUESTBRIDGE - Yesenia De Leon,  East End

Yesenia De Leon is one of two East End students heading to Boston College this fall through QuestBridge. Yesenia was previously part of the USC Bovard Scholars Program and has been a leader at East End Secondary. Yesenia will be studying computer science at Boston College.  

She shared, “I think computer science is a growing industry and I would want to find a way to use tech to help others. One big group I think might benefit from new technologies is elderly people who might need some extra help that is not complicated for them to understand.” 

Jassive Esquivel, her college counselor, shared, “Yesenia is one of the most hardworking students East End has seen. Yesenia is determined, tenacious and has an insatiable hunger to learn. Yesenia balances sports, Student Council, being a USC Bovard Scholar and being one of the top students in the Class of 2023. We are so proud of her and excited to see everything she will continue to accomplish when she attends Boston College.” 

Yesenia shared, “Being a QuestBridge Scholar means that the hard work I have been putting in has paid off, and now I have a shot to fulfill some dreams. It means that I have made the people who care the most about me proud, and I will be able to accomplish big things. It also takes a weight off not only my shoulders but my parents' too, as my education won’t become another payment they will have to worry about.” 

Deyanira Garza, YES Prep East End Secondary 

Matched with Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts 

QUESTBRIDGE - Deyanira Garza, East End

The second student from East End heading to Boston College is Deyanira Garza. Esquivel, who is also her college counselor, shared, “Deyanira is without a doubt an amazing student. She is someone everyone loves to be around because of her kindness and generosity. She has a natural curiosity to learn more, she's thoughtful and has an exceptional work ethic that has placed her at the top of her graduating class. East End is lucky to have an Explorer like Deyanira, and we are so excited to see her reach all her goals.” 

Both Yesenia and Deyanira had the opportunity to visit Boston College last spring on Junior Spring Trip and are now heading back this fall!  

Daniela Menéndez, YES Prep Gulfton Secondary 

Matched with Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey 

QUESTBRIDGE - Daniela Menendez, Gulfton

Daniela Menéndez from YES Prep Gulfton Secondary has matched with Princeton University. Daniela has been devoted to her education, studying at High Mountain Institute in Leadville, CO and as USC Bouvard Scholar. 
Daniela will be studying public policy with a focus on social justice at Princeton University. Upon receiving her bachelor’s, she dreams of going to law school or starting her own non-profit to bring change in her community to those in need. 
She shared, “By studying social policy, I hope to expand resources and set the foundation necessary. I intend to further analyze the shortcomings of our current systems to advocate for policies that eliminate social injustices and create a social safety net that helps children and families thrive on a national level. I hope to one day end up in law school and become an active voice for my community.” 

Her college counselor Johnny Gonzales shared, “It came as no surprise to me that Daniela was selected as a QuestBridge Scholar and matched with her first-choice school, Princeton University. Daniela is one of the hardest-working students I have had the pleasure of working with in my time at YES Prep. She is the epitome of integrity, has a heart for others, is extremely humble and has a knack for making you feel better just by being around her. I am extremely proud to be her college counselor and I can't wait to see the impact she will make on their campus and then the world.” 
Daniela shared, “It's an honor and a privilege to be able to attend Princeton University as a QuestBridge Scholar because it's my mother's tears and sacrifices finally paying off. My family and I do not have to worry about the financial burden that comes with attending a highly selective institution for the next four years!”

Jasmine Gonzalez, YES Prep North Central Secondary 

Matched with Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio 

QUESTBRIDGE - Jasmine Gonzalez, North Central

Through QuestBridge, Jasmine Gonzalez has been matched with Oberlin College. Jasmine has been involved as YES Prep North Central on Class Council and Senior Council. Jasmine has also participated in National Hispanic Institute each summer participating in The Great Debate, Lorenzo De Zavala Youth Legislative Session, and Collegiate World Series.  

Jasmine shared, “Being a QuestBridge Scholar means opportunity. Before I found out that I was matched, my plan was to attend a local university due to a lack of funds. But now that I have officially become a QuestBridge Scholar, I know that I am going to make the most out of this opportunity. I know that I worked my hardest throughout my high school years and all that hard work was influenced by my parents. My parents worked their hardest to provide me with everything I needed to set myself up for success. Being a QuestBridge Scholar is an opportunity to not only make my parents proud but to become the person I always wanted to be, one who gives back to their community.” 

Jasmine plans to study political science. Her current career goal is to earn a JD (Juris Doctor) and become an immigration attorney.  
Her counselor Emil Niz shared, “It’s been a privilege helping Jasmine for the past several years. I also had the opportunity to advise her brother in the Class of 2022 and know her family is incredibly proud.” 

Jenifer Silva, YES Prep Northbrook High 

Matched with Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa  

QUESTBRIDGE - Jenifer Silva, Northbrook High

Jenifer Silva is a powerhouse of intellectual curiosity, joy and support at Raider Nation. Throughout high school, Jenifer takes pride in accomplishing a balance between AP courses and courses to grow her passions within the field of criminal justice and STEM, in addition to maintaining a job. Jenifer’s love for STEM is one of which she is proud and hopes to be a role model for future generations of women of color within the field.  

Her teachers would describe Jenifer as, “a resilient force who refuses to get weighed down by the demands of her workload while going about the day with her trademark sense of humor and effervescent personality.” The infectious joy ranges from honoring her classmates when they succeed, engaging in insightful conversations with staff and serving her community.  

Participation in the National Honor Society, Ladies of Distinction, Asian American and Pacific Islander Club, chess club and volunteering at food and clothing banks allows Jenifer to embrace and engage with like-minded company to prosper in her desire to spread positivity with others and within her environments.  

Jenifer plans to carry over her love for STEM, investment in her community and spreading joy throughout her post-secondary endeavors at Grinnell College!   

Daisy Torres, YES Prep Northside Secondary 

Matched with Colby College in Waterville, Maine 

QUESTBRIDGE - Daisy Torres, Northside

Daisy Torres matched a QuestBridge Scholar with Colby College. Daisy shared, “being a QuestBridge Scholar means a lot to me since I never thought I’d be standing here when I was younger. It’s an amazing opportunity that feels like it could open a lot of doors for me.” 

Daisy will be studying computer science and wants to become a data scientist or computer analyst.  She previously had the opportunity to learn about computer science when she participated in the University of Texas at Austin’s Computer Science Academy for Women. She has also been a leader at YES Prep Northside Secondary as the secretary of the National Honor Society. 

Daisy shared that she can’t wait to go to Colby next fall. She said “I look forward to a new environment not just academically but weather-wise. I also look forward to meeting new people.” 

Karla Lopez, YES Prep Northside Secondary 

Matched with Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire 

QUESTBRIDGE - Karla Lopez, Northside

Karla Lopez has been a leader at YES Prep Northside Secondary and will be becoming a leader this fall at Dartmouth College. Karla has been a member of Northside Orgullo Latinx/e club and student council. During her junior year, she studied at The School for Ethics and Global Leadership at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa during the spring semester. 
Karla is going to be majoring in environmental studies at Dartmouth. She shared, “Ultimately, I hope to amplify the message of the perils of climate change while also working alongside the people most affected to develop long-lasting and equitable solutions.” 

Karla is thankful for the opportunity to become a QuestBridge Scholar. "Becoming a QuestBridge Scholar is an opportunity to begin repaying -if I ever fully can- the sacrifices my parents made for my sister and me. In receiving this award, I learned that the boundaries of what is considered possible are meant to be expanded - and this is a lesson I intend on taking with me as I strive to help create an environmentally sustainable Earth.” 

Karla is eager to be alongside professors and peers who have the same passion for creating a sustainable world.  

Melanie Vazquez, YES Prep Southeast Secondary 

Matched with Rice University in Houston, Texas 

QUESTBRIDGE - Melanie Vazquez, Southeast

Through QuestBridge, Melanie Vasquez has been matched with Rice University, located in the heart of Houston. The acceptance still has not set in for Melanie, and due to her level of competitiveness, she is humbled by the honor. 

She plans to study political science, and eventually, attend law school. Her future goals include pursuing a career in politics with a concentration on diplomatic and international relationships. Her plans were in part inspired by her experience studying abroad in South Africa with the School for Ethics and Global Leadership – one of YES Prep’s Student Enrichment Opportunity Partners, her junior year. 

One of her long-term goals includes obtaining a seat in the House of Representatives. 

Kelly Truong, YES Prep Southeast Secondary 

Matched with Columbia University in New York, New York 

QUESTBRIDGE - Kelly Truong, Southeast

Kelly Truong, is currently ranked #1 in the class of 2023 at YES Prep Southeast. Kelly was matched to Columbia University in New York City, New York through QuestBridge.  
Kelly’s college counselor, Natalia Palmarini, shared, “It is no surprise that she was matched with an Ivy League school. Kelly endlessly works to be at the forefront in the Southeast community and in the STEM field. She is known to consistently find opportunities to broaden her understanding of the tech world.” 

Kelly pursued STEM experiences with UT Austin where she worked in teams to dive deep into computer engineering and its application. She also participated in Kode with Klossy, a woman empowerment coding group that aided Kelly in her professional development.  
She is also the founder of the YES Prep Southeast STEM club, a lead for the Southeast WIZARD camp for sixth graders, co-captain of the Varsity Volleyball team, and a member of the cheer team. Wherever you look, Kelly Truong is there. Her face is even on the walls of Southeast’s main entrance.  
Kelly is family oriented, centering herself on being the middle sister and in her Vietnamese culture. As a first-generation student, both in the country and in higher education, Kelly is proud to be going to Columbia University. Her college counselor, Natalia Palmarini, is endlessly in awe of Kelly’s feats and is excited to be sending her off to be a computer engineering major in her hometown of New York City. 

Leyla Campos Ba, YES Prep Southeast Secondary 

Matched with University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois 

QUESTBRIDGE - Leyla Campos, Southeast

Leyla Campos was matched to University of Chicago through QuestBridge. Leyla plans on pursuing neuroscience to be a leading doctor in working with the brain and nervous system. Without a doubt, we know she will be someone who will make major breakthroughs in the field.  

Leyla is the vice president of the senior class, a member of the Varsity Volleyball team, and a lead of the Southeast WIZARD camp for sixth graders. Leyla has genuine energy that is welcoming to all. She has the intention of becoming a doctor.  

Leyla’s college counselor, Natalia Palmarini, shared “I am immensely proud of her for getting matched with her first choice and the level of dedication she has put into becoming the best version of herself.” 

Lea Garcia, YES Prep Southeast Secondary 

Matched with University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana 

QUESTBRIDGE - Lea Garcia, Southeast

Upon learning she was matched with Notre Dame, she was shocked and surprised but very honored by the opportunity. 

She plans to study civil engineering. Her future goals include helping to renovate/build cities across the world, making transportation systems safer and learning to make construction materials more efficient and affordable. 

Congratulations, scholars! 

Congratulations to our QuestBridge scholars for attaining this opportunity. Your hard work has been greatly rewarded. To our college counselors, thank you for guiding, preparing and encouraging our students to be the best version of themselves. Scholars, we wish you the best as you prepare for this next chapter.  

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

Sign up to receive The News Update directly in your inbox

The News Update is YES Prep Public Schools monthly e-newsletter where we share the latest news, teacher and student stories, as well as upcoming events and important dates. 

Subscribe to newsletter