Four Southland College Prep Charter High School Seniors Awarded More Than $1 Million Total in Full Scholarships to Top Universities by National QuestBridge College Match Program
Four Southland College Prep Charter High School Seniors
Awarded More Than $1 Million Total in Full Scholarships to
Top Universities by National QuestBridge College Match Program
RICHTON PARK, ILL.—December 5, 2021— Four Southland College Prep Charter High School seniors earned a cumulative total of more than $1 million in four-year full scholarships to top universities from the QuestBridge National College Match Program.
The four Southland College Prep seniors—Isaiah Adegoye, Nehemiah James, Danielle Mambo and Eriyana Woolfolk-- were selected as Match Scholarship Recipients. The students have earned full four-year scholarships, including room and board, books and supplies, fees and travel expenses with no loans. Adegoye will attend Vanderbilt University. Nehemiah James and Danielle Mambo will both attend the University of Chicago. Eriyana Woolfolk has been matched to Rice University.
Out of over 20,800 applicants, QuestBridge selected 6,683 finalists to be considered for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship. This year, QuestBridge’s 50 college partners matched with 2,242 finalists, who are recognized as Match Scholarship Recipients. This is the highest number of Match Scholarship Recipients to date for QuestBridge, according to the program.
“To have one QuestBridge Scholar in a school of any size is an accomplishment. To have four students match is amazing,” said Dr. Blondean Y. Davis, Southland College Prep CEO, noting that this year’s seniors started high school during the pandemic in the fall of 2020. “It is an extraordinary recognition of the dedication and focus our students are capable of even in challenging circumstances.”
Dr. Davis praised the QuestBridge program’s mission of connecting high-achieving high school seniors with scholarships to the nation’s top colleges granting the “greatest of opportunities for our talented young people.”
Collectively these scholarships are valued at close to $1.3 million, according to Robert Lane, Southland’s Director of College Admissions and Alumni Relations.
“History has been made in the most splendid of ways,” said Lane, noting that Southland has had up to three students earn QuestBridge Scholarships in previous years, but this year, a record number of Southland students were matched.
Calling this another “unprecedented accomplishment” for a school of Southland’s size of almost 580 students, Lane said it is the seventh year that Southland students have been matched and went on to attend prestigious institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, the University of Chicago, Duke University, Brown University, Washington University and Dartmouth College. It is the third time that multiple students from Southland have been chosen.
QuestBridge is a national program that connects high-achieving high school seniors from underprivileged backgrounds to the program’s college partners which include top liberal arts colleges and research universities.
This year’s awardees wrote as many as 100 essay responses to earn their QuestBridge awards, Lane said.
Isaiah Adegoye, 18, of Richton Park, Illinois, will attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Adegoye, who wants to be a teacher, plans to major in secondary education with a concentration in math.
Adegoye is the head drum major of the Southland Ambassador Marching band and plays the clarinet in the wind ensemble. He is the president of the National Honor Society and a member of the Interact Service Club. He also participates in the Real Men Read program in which Southland students read to students at the Matteson Elementary School. He is also a mentor and tutor for underclassmen.
Adegoye, who said he always wanted to be a teacher, said Vanderbilt’s education program attracted him to the school. Adegoye learned about the QuestBridge program from his older sister, Kamaria, who also graduated from Southland in 2021 and was a QuestBridge Scholar. She is currently attending Washington University in St. Louis.
Adegoye, who is the youngest of four children of a single mother, said the scholarship is a relief for his family.
“To be able to take off the burden of my education, I’m really happy to do that,” he said.
Nehemiah James, 17, of Matteson, Illinois, will attend the University of Chicago. He plans to major in computer science and minor in finance or economics.
During his high school career, James has been treasurer of the student council. He was a member of the golf team. He is also a member and captain of the speech team and competes in the category of extemporaneous speaking. He also participated in pre-college programs at Washington University in St. Louis, Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.
James is familiar with the University of Chicago campus. He did an internship and then was awarded a fellowship at the University of Chicago Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) in which he did research in health and game design.
James said he has been in love with technology since he was a child. He wants to be a programmer and hopes to start his own company one day.
James, who lives with his grandparents and mother, said the QuestBridge scholarship “allows me to go to school stress free.”
Danielle Mambo, 17, of Matteson, will attend the University of Chicago. She will major in biology and plans to become a dentist.
At Southland, Mambo was a member of the choir throughout her high school career and currently serves as the choir president. She is an alto section leader and also a dance captain for the choir. She is the secretary for the National Honor Society and the Interact Club.
For her essays for the QuestBridge scholarship, Mambo said she wrote about her identity as an American woman and a child of immigrants who came to the United States from the west African country of Cameroon and how they sometimes conflict.
“I’ve learned to balance them and use the best of both identities,” Mambo said. “My Cameroonian background is where my work ethic derives from and my American background is where I am more expressive and more of an advocate.”
She said her parents work hard to support their family abroad and here, including her four siblings.
“Not having to pay for college is a blessing. That’s just something they don’t have to worry about,” Mambo said of her parents.
Mambo said being matched with the University of Chicago is “absolutely amazing” and she looks forward to being challenged academically and enjoying the beautiful campus.
Eriyana Woolfolk, 17, of Country Club Hills, will attend Rice University in Houston, Texas where she plans to major in economics or business.
Throughout her high school career, Woolfolk was a member of the Southland band. She has played the alto saxophone since fourth grade and is a section leader of the band. She is president of the Interact Club and a member of the National Honor Society. Woolfolk also volunteers at the Matteson Public Library.
After working at a local dog grooming business, Woolfolk said she knew she wanted to open her own business one day. She hopes to open either an accounting or financial consulting business in the future.
For her QuestBridge application she wrote about wanting to be “a trailblazer” like her mother. Her mother was the first in their family to go to college. As a child, Woolfolk said her mother inspired her and also exposed her to different experiences and activities such as ballet, dance and karate.
“She sparked ambition in me,” said Woolfolk, who hopes to do the same for her younger sister Keyeri, who is a freshman at Southland. “She was a trailblazer. I want to be the same for my sister.”
Southland College Prep Charter High School Background
In the years since opening in August 2010, Southland College Prep Charter High School has established itself as one of the high-performing high schools in the state of Illinois. Among its achievements are:
- Southland is the only charter high school in the state to earn an “exemplary” designation by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for five years, every year the designation has been given. Exemplary status is awarded to the top 10 percent of the state’s high schools.
- Southland in the only charter high school and the only public school in Illinois of any type with a population that is more than 90 percent African American to earn the highest ranking of exemplary from the Illinois State Board of Education.
- Collectively, all ten Southland College Prep graduating classes since 2014 have been offered $350 million or more in need and merit-based scholarships.
- Graduates of all ten Southland College Prep classes have been accepted by all eight Ivy League schools and all of the top 50 national universities in the United States. Southland graduates have been admitted to every major four-year public Illinois university and many Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- Southland’s first ten classes’ graduation rates have been 100 percent.
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