The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

QuestBridge scholars adjust to life at W&L

The QuestBridge experience, as shared through the viewpoint of QuestBridge scholars.
India Balkaran
Questbridge scholar India Balkaran, ‘27, went on the Volunteer Venture pre-orientation trip.

On Dec. 1, 2022, 28 current first years were alerted that they had gained admission to Washington and Lee University with a QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship.

According to the organization’s website, QuestBridge’s mission is to connect “the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education  and further opportunities.”

W&L partners with QuestBridge each year to provide selected students with full four-year scholarships. The W&L website says that almost 10 percent of each entering class is made up of QuestBridge students.

As the QuestBridge students, called scholars, entered their second month at the university, the Ring-tum Phi sent out a survey to assess their adjustment to college life so far.

The survey was completed by 20% of first year QuestBridge students about their experience adjusting to W&L so far.

Of the respondents, half had placed W&L within their top three choices when completing the ranking list for the QuestBridge scholarship.

QuestBridge scholar Crystal Campuzano, ‘27, said that when she first found out about the match, she began crying.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was really, really shocked. I kept thinking about how my life was about to change. It seemed surreal,” she said. “I never expected to get a full-ride scholarship.”

Another QuestBridge scholar, India Balkaran, ‘27, shared similar sentiments, stating that she was so grateful when she first learned she was awarded the scholarship.

“I knew that the only way I could go to college in America was to get a full ride,” said Balkaran. “So when I heard the news, it was a great weight lifted off of my and my family’s shoulders.”

The scholarship covers tuition, fees, housing, food, books, supplies and travel expenses. It allows students to focus on their academic and professional goals without stressing over finances.

QuestBridge also provides students with a strong community and resources, which these scholars have learned to utilize.

There have been various events, including potlucks and a lunch with President Will Dudley, for the scholars to connect with each other, faculty and older QuestBridge students.

Kassandra Loera, ‘27, said that attending the events helped her feel less alone.

“Knowing that there are other people here that are going to the same [event] as me, and knowing that I can reach out to them, helps a lot,” she said.

Despite QuestBridge’s support, respondents shared some challenges they had faced in their first months.

Respondents identified time management as their main challenge. They are learning to tackle this by asking for assistance from deans, going to peer tutors and lessening work hours outside of school.

Another challenge is navigating spaces populated by more privileged students who are unaware of low-income struggles.

“It’s hard sometimes because people can make very ignorant comments,” said Balkaran, “but it’s a good chance to educate others about things they may never experience.”

Overall, the QuestBridge scholars who participated in this questionnaire are enjoying W&L for different reasons, such as the community, academics and diverse opportunities.

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