Moses Lake For Samuel Repoelta, a Moses Lake High School student, it started with a postcard.
“I just got this thing in the mail,” he said.
It was an invitation to apply for a scholarship from an organization called QuestBridge. Questbridge helps children from low-income families apply to colleges they may know nothing else about, and pays most or all of the cost once they’re accepted.
Rebuelta will attend Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, beginning in the fall, on a full scholarship. He said QuestBridge officials have estimated the scholarship’s value, which includes tuition and room and board, at about $300,000 if he attends all four years.
I am very grateful. “Very grateful,” he said.
He will be the first in his family to go to university.
“I know I’m going to do a pre-medicine,” he said, “but I’m still hesitant about majoring.”
He chose Vassar in part because it is a small college, around 2,500 students, which means small class sizes. Vassar also allows its students to explore different disciplines.
“The main thing was the open curriculum,” he said. “The campus is also beautiful.”
He’s still hesitant about a career and course of study, but is leaning toward something that has piqued his interest since his first eye test in seventh grade.
“The eye looks great,” he said.
He considered a career in optometry and did some jobs in the optometrist’s office. He said that ophthalmology, a medical specialty that deals with all diseases and problems of the eyes up to surgery, seems more interesting.
He spent most of his winter vacation watching videos on ophthalmology jobs, as well as videos on eye surgery and treating eye diseases.
Rebuelta man numbers.
“Mathematics and science, I really like these things,” he said. “I love numbers and things. Solving problems with numbers is really cool.”
He said that he considered a career in engineering, but it is not interesting.
So while ophthalmology looks exciting at the moment, he hasn’t made any decisions yet. This career requires an undergraduate degree, medical school, residency, and one to two years of additional training. He said it was a challenge, and kind of a scary challenge.
So he is open to another option if ophthalmology does not work. Vassar attracted him in part because it gives the students a chance to change their mind, if they decide that their original choice is not the right choice after all.
Poughkeepsie, New York, a long way from home for a high school student.
“I’ve lived in Musa Lake all my life,” he said.
He was accepted to Whitworth University in Spokane, too, he said, and Whitworth’s acceptance letter came first. His mother was happy for him, but thought Whitworth was too far away. Then the acceptance letter arrived from Vassar.
“At first I thought I was joking,” he said.
He said she was proud of him and happy for him.
A new and challenging academic environment, a city all the way across the country — it’s plenty, and Rebuelta said it’s exciting and frightening at the same time.
“I’m mostly excited. Mostly,” he said.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.