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Student Spotlight: IDEA Public Schools Celebrates 100% College Acceptance, 99.6% College Matriculation

Carolina Cantu, a senior at IDEA Quest College Preparatory in Edinburg, Texas at the time, asked her brother, Danny, where she should apply to college.

“Princeton,” he said.

“Are you crazy?”  Carolina replied.  “I’ll never get in there.”

Carolina’s mother, who’d moved from Reynosa, Mexico to the Rio Grande Valley when she was a teenager, also encouraged Carolina to apply to top-tier universities.  It had been her own dream to obtain her bachelor’s degree, but after meeting her husband and starting a family, other priorities took precedence over going to college.

As she witnessed Carolina study for the SAT, collect letters of recommendation, and write statements of purpose, she knew that dream was finally within reach for her family. 

“Education is the number one priority in our family,” Carolina’s mother remarked. 

Carolina’s parents enrolled her at IDEA Quest College Preparatory when she was in sixth grade because of the school’s focus on educating students to and through college.  IDEA Public Schools and the Cantus shared a common goal: ensuring Carolina became the first person in her family to attend college.carolina-4.png#asset:7324

Carolina’s academic and extracurricular career at IDEA Quest was stellar.  She flourished in class, served as the writer and editor of the yearbook, was a member of the National Honors Society, and played numerous sports.  In fact, when the moment arrived for Carolina to find out the fate of her collegiate pursuits, she was more focused on her basketball game that evening.

“It was a big game,” Carolina said.  “And then the email came regarding my application to Princeton.  I couldn’t open it.  If it was bad news, I didn’t want it to affect how I played.” Not knowing what to do, Carolina ran to her college counselor, Mrs. Guzman.

Yvette Guzman, a college counselor at IDEA Quest, had been assisting Carolina with her application to Quest Bridge, a non-profit program that links high-achieving, deserving students with educational and scholarship opportunities at leading U.S. colleges and universities.  After much deliberation, Yvette decided to open the email for Carolina.

“Mrs. Guzman started screaming,” Carolina said, “So, I did too.”  After screams came tears of joy.  Carolina’s friends, Tanya Reina and Jocelyn Vargas, heard the commotion down the hall and came running.  It was the kind of scene you see in the movies—cheers, hugs, laughter, and all the cathartic emotion that erupts as you see your dream become a reality.

Carolina had been accepted to Princeton on a full scholarship.

Carolina immediately called her mom.  She was driving back from a business trip in Corpus Christi, and had spotty cell-phone service. 

“I couldn’t make out what she was saying,” Carolina’s mom explained.  “But I just knew it.  I never had any doubt.  My Carolina is intelligent, responsible, and remarkable.” 

And now she was college bound.

Carolina is currently enjoying her first semester at Princeton, where she studies Molecular Biology, and has established solid friendships with students she met through her freshman scholar’s institute.  “I’ve built a sense of community here,” Carolina explained. 

As for her family, Carolina noted that she’s honored to set an example for her two little brothers, Danny and Andy, who both attend IDEA Quest, and is immensely grateful for the support of her mother and father. Her family motivates her to reach for the stars every day.Carolina-2.jpg#asset:7322

It’s stories like Carolina’s that inspire IDEA students to achieve and succeed in school. IDEA Public Schools is committed to ensuring all students matriculate to and through college. As of October 4, 100 percent of IDEA’s 2016 graduates were accepted to college and 99.6 percent matriculated to college this fall.  We couldn’t be more proud of Carolina and the Class of 2016!


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