June 2014, Volume 18, Number 2


QuestBridge Scholars with SAS staff
Four students from the School for Advanced Studies (SAS) at MDC have been selected as QuestBridge Scholars. Celebrating the exciting news, from left, are SAS North Campus Counselor Dr. Michael Townsel, Samantha González, Tiffany Vinci-Cannava, SAS Principal Dr. Omar Monteagudo, Dario Núñez, Sarah Chavarriaga and SAS Kendall Counselor Donna Bray.

Excelling in the Quest for Excellence

Tiffany Vinci-Cannava, 18, realizes she wouldn’t be headed to the University of Virginia without the School for Advanced Studies (SAS) at MDC.

She and three other SAS seniors – Sarah Chavarriaga, Samantha González and Dario Núñez – were recently selected as QuestBridge Scholars. All four graduated this spring from both SAS and Miami Dade College, leaving with their high school and college associate degree diplomas in hand at the same time.

Tough Competition

The QuestBridge program is highly competitive. This year only three percent of the 12,818 students who applied were accepted. The generous scholarship package is typically valued at $250,000 per student and includes tuition, room and board in addition to two trips a year for the scholars to return home to visit family.

Students at SAS regularly make the cut for QuestBridge. This is because of the great training they get at SAS, which is a nationally acclaimed dual-enrollment high school that enables students to complete their junior and senior years of high school while they simultaneously accrue college credits at Miami Dade College. Having four SAS students selected for QuestBridge this year marks the most ever from one high school in the history of Miami-Dade County.

Pushed to New Heights

“There’s a different standard for achievement at SAS,” said Vinci-Cannava, who will study economics. “When I first arrived at SAS in my junior year, I wasn’t getting the grades I received at my previous schools, and that was a blow to my self-esteem. But that humility pushed me.

“SAS gave me an opportunity to challenge myself,” she added. ”Now I know what I’m capable of accomplishing.”

In addition to Vinci-Cannava at Virginia, González and Chavarriaga will attend Columbia University, while Núñez will use his scholarship to study at the University of Chicago. All three schools are among the nation’s top 25 academically, according to the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings. 

When asked if she could have afforded college without this scholarship, Vinci-Cannava emphatically replied, “No way! I worked after school to save for college, but it would have been impossible for me to afford to go to Virginia.”

QuestBridge partners with major corporations to fund these scholarships.

“This scholarship is one of the best things a high school student can earn,” said SAS Principal Dr. Omar Monteagudo. “Very few attain one.”

— WV

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