ALEXANDRIA, VA-Two T.C. Williams High School seniors and their families have reason to be proud. Natnael Asegdew and Bridgette Adu-Wadier were recently named QuestBridge Scholars. With the honor, both will be able to attend the colleges of their choice on full four-year scholarships. Asegdew will attend MIT, majoring in Computer Science, Economics and Data Science. Adu-Wadler will study at Northwestern University, majoring in Journalism.
After completing the application process, which involved writing essays on various topics, the wait was long for the soon-to-be high school graduates. On Dec. 1, they learned of their selection, having competed with 18,500 applicants nationwide. In all, 1,464 received scholarships, a life-altering opportunity.
Asegdew, who came to the U.S. from Ethiopia with his family at six years old, said his parents were driven by a single purpose: to give their children a better education.
“They were so happy when I got the news about the scholarship. It made them realize that coming to America was the right decision,” he said. “I think about the sacrifices my parents made for me all the time – moving to a new country, learning a new language, working long hours – all with their children’s future in mind.”
Adu-Wadler initially did not believe she had a chance to win the scholarship, despite numerous academic awards and the recognition she’s received for her writing ability, which she employs as Editor of T.C.’s Theogony newspaper. Encouragement came from everyone: her teachers, counselors, even the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.
The daughter of Ghanian immigrants, she received word of her accomplishment on a Zoom call with T.C. College and Career Center Counselor Stacy Morris.
“There was a big banner saying ‘Congratulations!’ and confetti was flying around the screen,” Adu-Wadler recalled. “For a second, I didn’t know what to do. I was overjoyed and crying and just so shocked.”
QuestBridge is an extremely competitive application process that helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full scholarships to the nation’s most selective colleges. Across the country, this year’s QuestBridge Scholars have an average unweighted GPA of 3.93 and 94 percent are in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. 95 percent come from households with an annual income under $65,000. For the first time in the scholarship’s history, 78 percent are the first generation in their families to attend an American university.
Speaking of the achievements of Asegdew and Adu-Wadler, T.C. Principal Peter Balas remarked, “I am so proud of our Titan QuestBridge Scholars. I know that these students are so deserving and that this scholarship will be life-changing for our students.”