Franceska Drejaj had a busy week. The Brewster High School senior presented a policy paper to Governor Hochul, sang at the All-State Music Festival in Rochester, and found out she won a four-year scholarship to Bowdoin College worth more than $300,000.
“It’s like I won the lottery!” said Drejaj.
Drejaj was one of 1,755 students chosen from a field of more than 17,900 applicants to receive a scholarship to a top college or university through QuestBridge’s National College Match Scholarship. A not-for-profit, QuestBridge connects the nation’s most outstanding low-income students with leading colleges. Despite her lottery analogy, luck had nothing to do with Drejaj’s good fortune. It was all about hard work.
Her counselor, Kate Hammond, said, “When I met Franceska I literally googled her! This kid has done more than most adults.”
“We are so proud of Franceska,” said Carlos Rodriguez, vice principal of Brewster High School. “She has worked hard and deserves this.”
When asked how she found out about the decision, Drejaj said, “I was at All States in Rochester and I got an email from QuestBridge. My parents had gone out to get food and I told them to turn around. We decided beforehand that we’d call my grandparents. It took a little time to get my grandparents on FaceTime because they are not very tech savvy–but I opened up the email and my mother started screaming and crying.
How did you feel?
“I felt like I had won the lottery. I mean, this scholarship covers everything from room and board to travel. Bowdoin even gives us a Macbook and an Apple pencil. My dad was so happy about that. I am just so grateful to be part of the QuestBridge community.”
What do you want to study at Bowdoin?
“I want to study government and legal studies. My sixth grade social studies teacher, Mr. Nelligan first got me interested in the world. It was the 2016 elections–when other kids were watching Netflix, I was watching the news.”
What extracurricular activities have you participated in during high school?
“I have been on the Putnam County Youth Court. It’s a court made up entirely of teenagers. If there is a first-time offender, that kid appears in front of us, we act as judge. If the kid doesn’t get into trouble again, the records are sealed. That has introduced me to the legal system.
I am also part of the Governor’s Youth Council. I represent the Hudson Valley. We get a topic to work on and present our findings to the governor. This fall, we were asked to look into youth mental health. We researched and discussed the subject and presented a policy proposal to the governor.
And, of course, I love to sing. I made Area All State and then based on my scores, went to All State. I would like to join a singing group at Bowdoin.”
Besides academics, what else are you looking forward to at Bowdoin?
“When I toured the school, everyone seemed really happy. I think the school fits my personality. I am excited for the outdoor orientation at the beginning of school. I think I will go white water rafting. I love lobster, so I’m excited for that. I don’t ski, but I guess I’ll have to learn!”
What do you want to be when you grow up?
“I want to be a politician. I want to change the world. Maybe it has to do with being an older sister–my little brother was born three years ago and I have a sister who overcame some developmental delays. So, I feel like I’ve seen a lot. I want to make the world a better place.”
This is a press release provided by the organization. It has been lightly edited and is being published by Examiner Media as a public service.
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