Since her sophomore year, Amanda Jenkins ’21 was certain that she wanted to attend Columbia University. But, the uncertainty of how she was going to get there was often on her mind, until she was introduced to the QuestBridge Program.
QuestBridge is a nonprofit organization that matches the brightest, most academically driven students from low-income backgrounds with top-ranked colleges and universities around the country. When a qualifying student earns admission to their dream school, they are also then eligible for a four year scholarship. Students apply through the National College Match, an alternative application platform, and rank their schools according to preference.
Amanda ranked just five schools: Columbia University, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Chicago, and University of Pennsylvania. And with high risk comes high reward: next year Amanda will be headed to Columbia University to study engineering.
“I knew that QuestBridge was the best option for me and the best way for me to tell my story,” Amanda said. “It’s a really competitive process but I made sure everything I handed in was not only extremely thorough but my best quality work and it really paid off for me. To know that I’m able to attend my dream school, graduate debt-free, and really help out my parents and give them a break financially means the world to me. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
Not only did Amanda earn admission to Columbia University and a four year scholarship for tuition, she is also a recipient of the Gates Foundation Scholarship. The Gates Scholarship is awarded to 300 students each year and covers textbooks, supplies, transportation, or any other out of pocket expenses that she may have at Columbia University over the course of her four years.
“I heard about the Gates Foundation Scholarship from some people I met through Questbridge and actually, I was really quite reluctant to apply for it,” she said. “There were over 34,000 applicants, so I thought my odds of getting it were really small, less than 1% to be exact. But I went for it and I completed the quarterfinals, semifinals, interview, and selection rounds and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.”
Ms. Timm-Dinkins, associate director of college counseling, notes that Amanda embodies all of the celebrated characteristics of students selected to be both QuestBridge and Gates scholarship recipients.
“I’ve truly enjoyed working with Amanda,” Ms. Timm-Dinkins said. “She is one of the most gifted, humble, and determined students with whom I have had the opportunity to work. Her superior work ethic, coupled with her natural ability and passion, will no doubt carry her to accomplish great things in the future. I’m sure that I’m not alone in saying that we are so proud of her.”
Next year, Amanda will major in mechanical or biomedical engineering with plans to study the ethicality of artificial intelligence.
“I really want to study how we are able to combat biases in coded systems,” she said. “This particular subject matter is developing more and more everyday, but as it continues to advance there needs to be more people studying these sorts of things.”
Amanda notes that she knew Columbia University was the best place for her because one of their mission statements is a core value of her everyday life.
“Engineering for humanity,” she said. “That motto perfectly describes exactly what I want to do; I want to change society through my studies and findings. Just based on that mission statement alone I know that Columbia is absolutely the right place for me.”
Here on campus, Amanda was a four-year boarding student and proctor, co-captain of the Science Olympiad Team, leader of the Spanish Honors Society, and leader of the National Honors Society. Amanda also was a part of the Varsity Girls’ Soccer team and the Varsity Girls’ Golf team where she made the All-Academic Team.
Amanda notes that her extracurricular activities played a large role in making her experience at Hun so memorable and as she prepares to say farewell, she believes that she will always be a part of the Hun community.
“Hun has provided me with so many opportunities and I am so very grateful and appreciative for everything,” she said. “I’m so glad that I will only be a train ride away and when I do decide to come back and visit, I really feel like the support I felt throughout my four years here will still be here.”