SAN ANTONIO – A local high school senior from the city's South Side was accepted to and awarded a full-ride scholarship to one of the world's most prestigious universities. María García-García will graduate from Young Women's Leadership Academy and head to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the fall with a four-year scholarship worth over $200,000.
Every morning since the 6th grade, García-García hops on a city bus near her home on the South Side and makes the trek to Young Women's Leadership Academy with one mission on her mind: to succeed.
“In, like, 7th grade, I got exposed to coding by a program called The Geek Bus,” García-García said. “They told us about how coding was a way that people made video games.”
García-García dove into coding and is a member of her school's robotics club, but her passion goes beyond technology. She also loves science.
"When I got to physics, I learned about like electronics and like how electrical circuits work," García-García said.
It wasn't until last year that García-García began to think she might have a chance to be accepted into a selective university. She applied to QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program.
"I found out that junior year they had a program for low income students," García-García said. "They basically (give) access to opportunities if you got in."
According to QuestBridge's website, the College Prep Scholars Program is for academically outstanding high school juniors who demonstrate strength in character and whose families earn less than $65,000 a year for a family of four.
"It's a rigorous process," García-García said. "You have to write two long essays and then multiple short answers in addition to your application, which includes financial information and background information."
Close to 15,000 students across the nation applied to the program this school year and only 1,127 were selected as scholarship recipients. It's a big accomplishment the Young Women's Leadership Academy senior's mentors are extremely proud of.
"She's on the sports team and manages all of these difficult courses and clubs," Ashley Cash said. Cash is García-García's counselor. "(MIT) can see all of her potential and what she's going to be able to bring to the table at that demanding institution, as well."
García-García will become the first in her family to ever attend college. Although tough at times, the support of her family, friends and teachers has been instrumental for the scholarship recipient. Her advice to low-income students like her is to take advantage of the opportunities available.
"You feel like you're the only one," García-García said. "(You feel) that you don't have enough opportunities or you might not get something because of your situation, but you just gotta keep trying harder."
To learn more on how to apply for the 2020 College Prep Scholars Program for QuestBridge, click here.