Scholarships give Lane students hope after a challenging year


To give undocumented Lane students more financial aid opportunities, The DREAMers Club hosted their Dita M. Scholarship. Winners of the scholarship were notified on April 14 (Photo courtesy of The DREAMers Club).

By Stephanie Mosqueda, Features Editor

After a few months of waiting, Yulissa Luna anxiously opened her laptop and logged in to her QuestBridge portal. Once in, Luna clicked a bright red button that told her there had been a status update made to her application. When it finished loading, her screen read, “Congratulations, you matched!” Now, as a QuestBridge Match Scholarship recipient, Luna will attend The University of Chicago on a full four-year scholarship in the fall. 

 “It all felt surreal,” said Luna, Div. 160. “I didn’t know how to react and I cried because I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think it was going to happen.’” 

This year, COVID-19 brought a plethora of new obstacles and changes for students. The college admissions process had to adapt to testing cancelations, clubs needed to adjust to virtual environments and sports seasons were interrupted. 

Apart from the changes made to school and social life, some students’ families also faced financial hardships. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 25% of participants said they or someone in their household lost their job due to COVID.

After all the challenges faced, various scholarships are now recognizing students’ hard work and ensuring they are given the aid needed to go to college. 

Founded in 1994, QuestBridge is a non-profit organization with the goal of supporting low-income students by allowing them to attend some of the nation’s best colleges. Students submit an application through the Questbridge National College Match and rank 12 out of the 45 college partners. Days after completing their lists, applicants are notified if they were selected as finalists. If they were, they then wait for Match Day to find out if they matched with one of their ranked schools. 

This year, Lane students Selena Kuznikov (Northwestern University), Yulissa Luna (University of Chicago), Unique Mackey (Emory University) and Julia Augustyn (Wesleyan University) were among the 1,464 matches made for the 2020-2021 cycle. This fall, they will all attend their universities on a four-year scholarship that will cover their cost of tuition, room, board, books and travel expenses. 

To Luna, winning this scholarship means a lot since she has been working hard throughout her high school career to achieve her dream of getting into a good university.

“I remember staying up late at night to finish homework,” Luna said. “Then, I would have practices and come home to do more work or study. Ever since I was little, I have put my all into it.” 

According to Luna, matching with The University of Chicago came at a good time for her family since they had been facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. 

“My family did face a lot of challenges since my parents both lost their jobs. Saving wasn’t an option for me at the time, so it helped me because my goal was to work and save money but work wasn’t available for me or my family because of the pandemic,” Luna said. 

Maricela Camargo, Div. 149, who became a Posse Scholar this school year, can relate to Luna’s situation.

 “I remember that during the entire Posse application process, things were looking very difficult for my family. My mom was not working and my dad had hours cut. We were just struggling a lot,” Camargo said. “I tried my best and I persevered even though there were difficult times.”

To become a Posse Scholar through The Posse Foundation Scholarship, a student must first be nominated by a teacher or a past scholarship winner. Once nominated, applicants go through rounds of group and one on one interviews where their leadership and problem-solving skills are evaluated. After applications are reviewed and interviews are conducted, winners are notified in December.

Ariani Gomez (Cornell University), Otis Klawans (Trinity College), Cecilia Laurie (Agnes Scott College), Joseph Munoz (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Steeve Nsangou (DePauw University) and Daniel Velazquez (Pomona College) accompany Camargo as the seven Lane Posse Scholars this year. 

In addition to the scholarship, Posse Scholars also receive counseling through the program. To Camargo, this will give her the opportunities she never thought she would have. 

“Coming from a low-income family and being first-generation, I did not have as much support or guidance, but through the Posse program, I got the opportunity to grow,” Camargo said. “This has opened so many doors for me and gave me so much hope.”

In addition to national scholarship opportunities, Lane seniors also had a chance to apply to ones that were designed specifically for them.

On April 1, Lane Tech Alumni Association opened the application for their Scholarship Program, which they have hosted for more than 33 consecutive years. The LTAA scholarships are made possible by funds given by alumni and are given in the honor of other Lane alumni or faculty members, as stated on their website. With the funds provided, 20 scholarships were available for students this year. 

Scholarships were available for students with a variety of interests, such as community service, English or wrestling. Teachers also had the opportunity to nominate students, which Randall Carpenter, the School Counseling Intern, believed to be a great way to encourage students to apply. 

Sometimes students don’t realize that they are deserving of a scholarship award, so having students be nominated by teachers is another nice way to identify the type of person that is deserving of a scholarship,” Carpenter said.

Since some students were learning at home and others at school, the Counseling Department had to come up with a way to ensure that all students were aware of the LTAA Scholarships.

In collaboration with Ms. Carqueville and Ms. Nease, we decided on doing daily email blasts,” Carpenter said. “This method was chosen as a way to communicate to all students regardless of being remote or in-person. The LTAA Scholarships are specifically designed for Lane Tech students, so making sure students are aware of these amazing opportunities is a priority for the Counseling Department.”

With the help of the daily emails, 456 applications were received this year, wrote the President of the LTAA, Michelle Weiner, in an email to The Champion.

According to Weiner, these scholarships help fill the financial gaps in college costs for students, especially after the loss of income due to COVID. 

Even though there are countless scholarship and financial aid opportunities that are helping students afford a college education, some do not accept undocumented applicants. For example, undocumented students can not fill out FAFSA as they are not eligible for federal aid. 

To give undocumented Lane students more resources to continue their education during COVID, the DREAMers’ Club opened applications for their annual Dita M. Scholarship on Feb. 22.

The DREAMers’ Club focuses on discussing issues that concern Dreamers in CPS schools and providing them with resources. Their goal is to create a positive environment for undocumented students at Lane and allies that are also wanting to help.

To spread the word about the scholarship, DREAMers’ Club members decided to create a promotional video that explained the steps and requirements that needed to be met. The video was posted on their Instagram page in March and, according to Co-Secretary Christine Jacinto, shared with teachers to play during classes so more students were encouraged to apply. 

According to a study by College Financial Group, one in five students don’t apply for financial aid. One of the reasons, as found in the study, is because students don’t think they’ll qualify for any aid. 

Luna said she advises students to not feel discouraged to apply to a certain scholarship because of how selective it might seem. According to Luna, even if an applicant does not win, the application process will still be rewarding. 

Applying also just helps you learn about yourself because you get to see what you actually want to do with your life and degree,” Luna said. “At the end of the day, you lose nothing applying and you might just get a great scholarship.”