Senior receives full-ride scholarship to Brown University


Photo courtesy / Madeline Aguilar

Senior Isaiah Dawkins will attend Brown University on a full-ride scholarship.

12 years of late nights, stress, and grueling work may be seemingly insignificant for a few typed out words echoing “you’re in”. These words, however, are what would make or break Isaiah Dawkins’s future.

Dawkins is a senior planning to major in neuroscience at Brown University. He had always aspired to attend an Ivy League school, but his primary limitation was financial need. With the constant support of his counselor, Dawkins knew he couldn’t let the opportunity to apply for a QuestBridge Scholarship pass him by.

“Mrs. Cornell has become more than just a counselor, she has become a role model for me,” Dawkins said. “I remember her telling me my sophomore year that she knew I was destined to make it, and when she mentioned QuestBridge to me, I knew exactly where I needed to make it.”

QuestBridge is a highly selective program that offers a free ride following an acceptance and matching with a prestigious college. Qualification for the program requires financial need as the scholarships are need-based. Thousands of students apply to the program each year with only a handful being selected and matched to each school.

The QuestBridge application process takes about five months. Applicants are then given the option to rank up to twelve of the QuestBridge college partners; those of which applicants could be “matched” to depending on where the college appears on their list. “I decided to rank all 12 schools to give myself the fullest opportunity and have as much of an advantage as possible,” Dawkins said. “You have to put a lot of research into ranking your colleges to find exactly which ones you prioritize over others.”

Finalist decisions are made in mid-October, and those students continue by submitting supplementary materials to the colleges they ranked by November 1st. Match decisions are then released about a month later. With much relief, Dawkins received his match on December 3rd.

“Finding out I was selected can most easily be described as instant relief,” Dawkins said. “It was in that moment, I knew the amount of time and effort I devoted to my application had truly payed off.”

Dawkins had no doubt about choosing Brown University. “When I was researching Brown the Open Curriculum was really appealing to me.” Dawkins said. “It allows you to maneuver around classes without having to stick to a specific schedule: it’s a sense of academic freedom.”

Not only has Dawkins strived for academic excellence but he has also dedicated himself to various extracurricular activities such as symphony orchestra, varsity theater, and varsity choir. Dawkins has been in both theater and orchestra since the beginning of middle school, saying it has become an important aspect of his personality.

“I am currently second chair viola in symphony, and with All Region and Solo and Ensemble in session, I attend rehearsals every day during lunch and before school,” Dawkins said.

On top of that, Dawkins attends theater rehearsals every day after school for the upcoming UIL show Dancing At Lughnasa. “In previous years I have been in charge of props for our shows and have aided in building and setting up sets,” Dawkins said. “I would definitely say I am a dedicated and involved actor, and considering I am the only senior guy, it has become sort of a leadership position.”

As a senior, Dawkins is taking five Advanced Placement (AP) classes including AP Calculus BC and AP Statistics. Consequently, finding time for studying, rehearsals, and family time can be a challenge.

“I have always wanted to be very involved in many extracurriculars, it’s just knowing when to allot time to my studies,” Dawkins said. “Time management is truly the key.”

With a lot on his plate, Dawkins has always had the unfaltering support of his mother to follow his dreams and do what is necessary for himself and his future. “As cliché as it might sound, my mom has always been an important role model in my life,” Dawkins said. “She has never held me back from my passions, even as she sees the stress it can cause me at times.” Dawkins, however, has never regretted his involvement in so many activities, as it has allowed him to build his character and discover his abilities.

Receiving the QuestBridge scholarship was monumental for both Dawkins and his family. “Being able to go to Brown knowing I don’t need to focus on tuition and book fees, but to focus on striving for academic excellence, is a gift,” Dawkins said.

As Dawkins finishes his last few months of high school, he looks towards the future. “Nothing else in my life compares to receiving this scholarship. QuestBridge has given me hope for the future and has allowed me to overcome an obstacle I did not previously think I could,” Dawkins said.

“I hope that in the future I will be able to give back to my family for all the sacrifices they made for me. That is when I know I’ve done it all.”