- Taylor Independent School District
Full Ride to Duke!
For Taylor High School senior, Rose Simons, turning 18 not only meant becoming an adult, it’s also the day she found out her future goals were well on the way to coming true. She received official notification, on her birthday, that she had been awarded a QuestBridge National College Match, and a full-ride scholarship to Duke University.
“It was my birthday,” said Simons. “I found out from the QuestBridge Finalists Facebook Page that it had been posted. So, I went to the QuestBridge website, and when I clicked on it, there was confetti and the words, ‘You Matched with Duke.”
Simons was in her AP Calc class at the time. She immediately got up and began pacing, trying to keep the news to herself until she could tell her family.
“I texted my mom first, and her reaction was, ‘Wow!’ I found out later that she was at HEB shopping, and she made a noise, and this guy next to her said, ‘Are you ok?’ She replied, ‘My daughter is going to Duke!’ She was happy because Duke is in North Carolina, and we have family there.”
Next, Simons told her teacher, Vicki Rowe, who had supported her throughout the QuestBridge application process.
“I came up to Mrs. Rowe and said, ‘Mrs. Rowe, what do you think about the (mascot) Blue Devils?” Simons recalled. “She looked up at me and said, 'Really?’ When I said yes, she started crying.”
The process began in September when Rowe asked Simons if she would be interested in QuestBridge, explaining it as an opportunity to get a full ride to a good school. Rowe also offered to recommend Simons, and that’s when the THS senior said yes.
“I didn’t think that was ever going to happen,” said Simons. “But I looked at what was required, and it was a full-length process that took me at least a month to get all the way through it. I found out around November 18th that I was a finalist, which meant I would be able to try out for a match school. When I found out I had become a finalist, I was in Mrs. Rowe’s class and she cried then, too.”
Simons began working on the match scholarship process, including ranking her top fifteen colleges.
“I would have been happy with any of the top five on my list, which included Duke,” Simons said. “Duke wanted me, and they were willing to pay for my full education there.”
When selecting her top universities, Simons said academics were a major concern.
“Duke ranks as one of the best in the whole country,” said Simons. “And I love their architecture. They have such a pretty campus.”
Simons plans to study computer science as her major, knowing the demand for computer science degrees is only going to increase.
“I’ve always been fascinated with people making discoveries, and how humans are so innovative and we’ve come so far and how 100 years ago everything was so different,” Simons said. “I’m hoping to get a job where I can be an innovator in the field and see what I like and want to explore.”
Simons, who has never traveled outside of Texas, is looking forward to this new adventure. For other students who may not think they have a chance at being selected for a program like QuestBridge, the future Blue Devil has a few words of advice.
“If you are a low-income student who tries hard in academics, and it’s really important to you in your education, not to sell yourself short and not think that you can’t do what other people do just because of your situation,” said Simons. “Honestly, when I clicked that button, and I found that I matched, and saw those words in big letters, I never in a million years thought that would be possible because my SAT scores weren’t as high as other peoples, or I thought that I couldn’t contribute as much as other people. Don’t sell yourself short.”
QuestBridge National College Match is a program that connects high-achieving high school seniors with full four-year scholarships to 50 of the nation’s best colleges, an opportunity that might not otherwise have been possible due to the costs of pursuing a college degree. This year there were over 20,800 applicants, 6,683 finalists, and 2,242 matches.