Santa Barbara High School senior Jackie Cabral received awesome news December 1 — next fall she is headed to Tufts University on a full-tuition scholarship. Accessing a computer in a quiet space that Monday afternoon with a friend, Cabral checked her online account. “Oh my god! I’m going to Boston!” she exclaimed. “I screamed, cried, and then jumped around,” she said with a laugh.
Cabral won the QuestBridge Scholarship, which is part of a program that connects low-income students with grants at top schools around the country. About 15,000 students applied; 5,000 made it to the finals; 501 were selected. According to questbridge.org, the median household income of recipients is $28,873, and 84 percent qualified for the free or reduced lunch program. Five years ago was the last time a Don won the QuestBridge Scholarship.
Cabral, the first in her family to go to college, grew up with a single mom and had planned on staying close to Santa Barbara for school. “It didn’t really sink in how far away it was,” she said. “But it’s a great opportunity. I’m super excited.” She added that the award is also a weight off her mom’s shoulders as she has two kids to put through college. All four years of Cabral’s tuition will be paid for.
Guidance counselor Marcy Porter deserves a lot of the credit, Cabral said. Several people have noted how Porter goes above and beyond the call of duty, matching her students to specific scholarship programs and helping them through the entire process. The night one of her applications was due, Cabral realized at the last minute that she needed a signature from her counselor. It was already 6:30 p.m. Porter agreed to meet her at Kinkos to sign the apps, and they were sent on time.
Also attesting to Porter’s support was high school counselor Susan Snyder, who noted Porter’s ability to gently and consistently push her students. “QuestBridge is a terrific program,” Snyder said, “but it’s a long shot.” Porter is terrific at getting to know her students and linking them with the right program, she added. “In Jackie, she recognized talent and potential, then worked closely with [her] to complete the tedious requirements of the application,” she said.
Synder added that Betsy Heafitz of Smart College Match volunteered her time pro bono to help a group of students with the college process, which Cabral took full advantage of. “Jackie is a very deserving student, and we are so proud of her scholarship,” Synder said.