A Vista Ridge High School senior got the surprise of his life on Nov. 24, when he opened his front door to representatives from the University of Texas at Austin. UT’s Director of Admissions gave him an exclusive backpack, CompSci shirt, an early release of his Computer Science Major and a full tuition scholarship of $48,000.
“My parents knew before I did, I had no clue about it,” said 17-year-old Quincy Johnson. “They came up to my door and presented my scholarship to me... It was kind of just like shock, disbelief and denial. At first, it took a couple of hours to accept what had just happened. It was crazy.”
Johnson is one of four students in the Austin area to receive the award.
Johnson said he will use his scholarship to pursue the research of artificial intelligence and machinery in addition to computer science.
“This scholarship will help me to achieve that goal more easily because it just opened up a whole window of opportunities,” he said.
Johnson said that his Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) elective class helped prepare him for the college application process.
AVID is a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges. Although AVID serves all students, it focuses on the least served students in the academic middle.
Currently, AVID has been adopted by nearly 4,500 schools in 45 states, the District of Columbia and 16 countries/territories, and serves approximately 400,000 students, grades 4-12. Schools and districts have taken methodologies and strategies from the elective course and implemented them school wide and district wide to impact their entire communities.
Leander ISD offers the AVID Elective course to students in grades 7-12.
Jessica Mondragon, Johnson’s AVID elective teacher and a VRHS Spanish 4 AP teacher, s
“At the end of students’ junior year, I have them make their ApplyTexas account,” she said. “We also work on the three essays that are listed in ApplyTexas so when they’re finished their junior year, they at least have the foundation of an essay. With AVID, part of our focus is to get these students college ready and to get them accepted at universities.”
The scholarship recognizes students who are making an impact in their communities and covers the cost of tuition for the students’ four years at UT Austin.
“It has been an absolute privilege for us to be able to recognize these amazing students and award them with an Impact Award. These students are already making an impact in their communities and we know they will make an impact on the Forty Acres as well,” said Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management at UT Austin. “We want them to know we care about them and their futures. At UT our motto is what starts here changes the world—and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for these impact makers,”
Students are selected for the scholarship through a holistic review process. A student’s demonstrated leadership, proven academic success, financial need, perseverance, and commitment to their schools and communities are all qualities that are evaluated when selecting Impact Scholars.
Johnson’s message for other students in the application process is to: “write about what applies to you. Pursue what your passions are and go with that. Find stuff that you really enjoy, even if you don’t think it holds much merit and just go with it.”
Johnson is involved in VRHS Robotics and pioneered the school’s Chess Club. He also plays piano.