Calvert, George and Zheng named QuestBridge Matches

The Questbridge program offers full scholarships for low-income, high-achieving students. This year, three MSMS seniors were recipients of the program.


The Questbridge program offers full scholarships for low-income, high-achieving students. This year, three MSMS seniors were recipients of the program.

Madison Echols, Managing and News Editor

Three MSMS seniors received life-changing news in December: Raegan Calvert, Nathané George and Mark Zheng were named 2022 QuestBridge National College Matches.

QuestBridge gives high-achieving, low-income students a chance to attend the college of their choice. Out of more than 17,900 initial applicants, QuestBridge selected 5,613 finalists for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship, including Calvert, George and Zheng. QuestBridge then selected 1,755 seniors to receive full scholarships to their partner schools. Calvert matched with Colby College in Waterville, Maine, George matched with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Zheng matched with Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

At Colby College, Calvert said she plans to major in environmental studies. 

Calvert said she likes the rural atmosphere of Colby, the close-knit community and the opportunity of getting involved in environmentalism on campus.

“Even though I’m not a big fan of the South, I still like rural areas. The city stresses me out — too much going on — and Colby is in a very rural part of Maine. I also like to have personal connections with my teachers and professors, so I like that it has a small student-to-faculty ratio,” Calvert said. “I also want to go into environmental studies, and Colby works with gardens and cool stuff like that.”

Although Calvert said the QuestBridge program provides low-income students a way to access higher education, she said applicants should be aware of possible hidden fees and costs some colleges have.

“I recently went to one of the Colby seminars for QuestBridge matches, and they’re really big on student contribution. They actually require you to work in your first year of school, and you have to work up to the value of $1,800. You have to either earn that through work-study or pay for it. You also have to earn $1,600 before you get on campus in summer earnings,” Calvert said. “I was surprised when I heard that I had to make a contribution because once you get matched, you’re like, ‘OK, well, I’m done, and I have everything paid for,’ but there’s still money you have to pay, which was aggravating. But that just means I’m going to have to apply for more scholarships and put the work in, but that shouldn’t be too hard.”

George said they plan to major in biophysics with a minor in Spanish at USC. They look forward to enjoying the weather of Los Angeles and the unique amenities USC has to offer.

“I think LA is the perfect place for me. I learned about how you can do fly-in programs, so I went and visited the LA area and fell in love with it. I like a big campus where there’s always something to do,” George said. “I also like that they have biophysics, a major that a lot of schools don’t have. There’s also a USC campus in Spain, and I want to live in Spain and study abroad somewhere like Madrid.”

Zheng said he plans to major in astronomy and physics but also intends to explore the fields of computer science and education at Wesleyan. 

“I couldn’t be happier. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to attend such an elite college while also saving my parents from the financial burden,” Zheng said. “The flexible curriculum at Wesleyan allows me to explore topics that I’m interested in while also pursuing astronomy and physics. In addition, I’ve always wanted to live in the North due to the weather. As much as I appreciate my home state, I prefer the cold weather. And since I’ve lived my whole life in suburban cities, I am glad to move to another suburban area instead of the big cities.” 

Zheng said he was overcome with excitement when he learned about his match status.

“When I saw an email with the title ‘Check Your Match Status’ [and opened it], … I jumped up and down and started screaming at the person in the room with me,” Zheng said. “It must have been confusing for him since he had no idea I applied for QuestBridge, but I could hardly keep my excitement together. I immediately called my parents, who were still at work, to tell them the news. Then I ran straight to Hooper to find my counselor and teachers to tell them the news.”

Having gone through the QuestBridge process, George stumped for others to apply, saying it gave them “a head start.”

“I would tell the juniors to do this. I was a College Prep Scholar as a junior, which gives you an early look [at the application process] back in March or February,” George said. “Then you don’t just get access to the application; you get resources. For example, over the summer, I got to attend this big convention where all of the QuestBridge schools came online, and I got to ask questions.”

Calvert said students should think about how much effort they want to put into the application process when scholarship opportunities at local universities are obtainable without going through the program.

”QuestBridge is an amazing opportunity. If you need to go to college for free, do it. Otherwise, unless you care a lot about getting into a nice college, just go to Mississippi State,” Calvert said. “I got into the MSU Honors College automatically and would’ve likely gotten a full ride to State, which is all I was looking for in the QuestBridge program.”

Zheng said students should “believe in yourself and don’t hesitate to reach out to peers or teachers for help.”

“Your worth is not defined by a test score, so go out and seize each opportunity given,” Zheng said. “Also, don’t procrastinate till 3 a.m. every night as I did.”