Uncommon students earn full ride to prestigious colleges

Graduates of Uncommon Schools high school, who will be attending prestigious colleges.
Graduates of Uncommon Schools high school, who will be attending prestigious colleges.
Photo courtesy of Uncommon Schools

Students who attend an Uncommon Schools high school get access to a wide variety of classes in the typical subjects. But they also get lessons on how to ensure their college dreams are paid for—almost entirely without debt.

As early as 10th grade, students at Uncommon’s four Brooklyn high schools are learning about the financial aid forms, how to maximize scholarships and how to pick dream schools that will help ensure students can make it all the way through college. It helps that every Uncommon graduate gets their very own counselor that keeps helping even after students enroll in college.

As a result, this year’s Class of 2023 are heading off to colleges with very little debt. A higher than average number won QuestBridge scholarships, a competitive academic program that offers high-achieving high school seniors from low-income backgrounds four-year, full scholarships to some of the most selective higher education institutions in the nation.

“These bright and motivated students have a determination to succeed that will help them thrive well beyond their college years, and we’re excited to see where their dreams take them next,” said Ana Rowena Mallari, Co-Founder and CEO of QuestBridge.

Uncommon’s seniors were selected from among 17,900 applicants who applied to Questbridge, which selected 5,613 Finalists to be considered for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. QuestBridge’s 48 college partners matched with 1,755 finalists.

Six students from two of Uncommon Schools’ Brooklyn high schools won full rides through the QuestBridge National College Match.

In addition to the students who received Questbridge scholarships, students were admitted to some of the most highly selective colleges in the country, including Yale University, Syracuse, NYU, and HBCU’s such as Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Howard University.

At Uncommon Schools, all students are encouraged to take AP classes because of their correlation with future college graduation. At Uncommon high schools, 90% of students took at least one Advanced Placement class, many times the national rate, and nearly one quarter PASSED at least one AP exam. Nationally fewer than 40% of high school students take an AP class.

The six students – Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School seniors Jared St. Jean, Tra’vel Trent and Mohamed Kourouma and Uncommon Leadership Charter High School seniors Alyssa Baez, Cecilia Delacruz and Feona Edwards – are all planning to study science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) while in college.

St. Jean is attending the University of Chicago, where he plans to major in history and astrophysics. He hopes to become either an astrophysicist or a lawyer.

St. Jean said he enjoys attending school and sporting events, and visiting the library and checking out books that allow him to explore new topics.

Edwards is planning to attend the University of Chicago, where she plans to major in biology and eventually become a veterinarian.

“I would like to give back to the animals that were mistreated by humankind for human advancements,” Edwards said. “They deserve to live a longer and healthier life. I would like to also minor in psychology during my time in college, to find ways to help those with mental illness. This can provide access to better health for all organisms.”

Baez is attending Wesleyan University and is also planning to major in biology on the pre-medicine track. After medical school, she hopes to specialize in cardiology.

One teacher in particular, Ms. Shung, had a profound impact on Baez.

“When I was going through a hard time, she was there to comfort me and let me know that everything was ok,” Baez said. “She took the time to ensure her students understood the content through office hours and she would make it enjoyable at the same time. Essentially, Ms. Shung prioritized her relationships with students and showed lots of selflessness.”

Trent is planning to attend Emory University, where he plans to major in engineering, with the hopes of becoming an engineer because, “there is a need for more black men in the engineering field.”

Trent said he feels all the hard work and effort that he has put into school over during his academic career was well worth it.

“It has paid off and it is a great relief to know that I have been recognized for it,” he said.

Mohamed Kourouma is headed to Middlebury College, where he plans to major in software engineering and computer science.

One of the highlights of high school, Kourouma said, was helping his fellow students and running tack.

Kourouma said he would like to become a web designer and use his knowledge of computers to build an app that could help society.

“I would like to create an app that will make it easy for immigrants coming to the United States to get used to the technological advancements in the U.S., such as providing them with demonstrations on how to save things on your phone, send files and more,” he said.