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Mount St. Mary Academy student awarded prestigious scholarship to University of Chicago

Rebecca Shaw

KENMORE — Rebecca Shaw, a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy, has been awarded a full scholarship to the University of Chicago via the QuestBridge Match Program. Shaw began the application process during her junior year, and was named a finalist by QuestBridge. Around 1,400 students are awarded full-ride scholarships nationally out of over 15,000 applicants.

“I want to emphasize how difficult it is to receive a scholarship like this, and how extensive the application process is,” said Joanne Uhl, a guidance counselor at Mount St. Mary Academy. “Rebecca put an enormous amount of time and effort into the application, and it has paid off for her.”

The QuestBridge National College Match helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to some of the nation’s most selective colleges. In 2020, 1,464 students received admission and full scholarships via the Match. In addition, an estimated 2,000 QuestBridge finalists were offered admission to their college partners with generous financial aid through QuestBridge Regular Decision.

The process for applying is not only highly selective, but tenuous. “I answered many short answer and essay application questions to become a Questbridge Finalist. The process was extremely extensive and took many, many hours,” said Shaw. “I only had around a week between becoming a finalist and the due date for the college applications. I ended up having to miss a few plans with friends and warned my teachers of my other responsibilities in the case that I needed any extensions. I organized all of the college applications into one large document that ended up being almost 50 pages long.”

Shaw saw QuestBridge as an opportunity to ease the burden of the costs that come with attending a highly selective, and prestigious school. “Before receiving the scholarship, whenever someone would ask me about my college plans, I would always be uncertain and tell them that my biggest worry was the cost,” she said. “The first method of paying off the tuition would be through scholarships. Applying through Questbridge is a great decision because after becoming a finalist, there’s really nothing to lose.”

Kelli Shepherd is another counselor at MSM Academy that has helped Shaw achieve this prestigious scholarship, “Rebecca stands out not because of what is shown on her resume or transcripts, but for her character,” says Shepherd. “She is such a bright light in our MSM community. She often goes out of her way to help others and is extremely well liked by her peers and teachers. She puts her full effort into every assignment she turns in and is never afraid to ask for help when she needs it.”

QuestBridge is highly selective, and the University of Chicago is ranked sixth in National Universities, according to U.S. News. “There are so many qualities that make Rebecca special. Rebecca consistently challenges herself by taking AP and college courses, and maintains exceptionally high grades,” says Shepherd. “Her involvement in an array of school and extracurricular activities shows that she strives to expand her world view.”

Shaw is looking to study biology, and enter a pre-med track. “I’d like to also minor in environmental policy. At UChicago, I wish to incorporate environmental studies outside of school to make advancements in local policy in order to incentivize taking care of the planet while also majoring in biology or biochem to prepare myself for entering medical school.”