The Quest To Princeton



El Paso High senior, Sergio Borunda received a full scholarship to Princeton on Dec. 1, 2020.

Olivia Gouveia and Ana Paula Camu

With college application season rolling around, it can be a very stressful time for seniors. That stress quickly became elation for senior, Sergio Borunda, who was granted a full ride to Princeton through a nonprofit scholarship program called Quest Bridge.

“It’s still surreal. I just screamed the word Princeton for five minutes and ran around my house like a chicken,” Sergio said. “I’m really grateful because everyone was super supportive. And I could not have asked for more.”

On Dec. 1, 2020, senior Sergio received his full-tuition scholarship to the Ivy League school after waiting for months to hear back.

“I’ve been waiting [for this day] just to see if I actually got in anywhere. December first rolled around, and I opened up the portal and I just saw congrats,” Sergio said. “I still can’t believe it. I’m still pretty sure it’s all a big joke.”

After receiving the news, Sergio’s friends and family were thrilled for him. Sergio said that his dad was extremely proud of him.

The application process begins with the student ranking the universities that partner with Quest Bridge, starting with the student’s first-choice school and then ranking the other schools in descending preference.

If the universities feel the student will be a good fit, the scholarship is granted to them. The application process also includes essays and short answer questions about the student’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments. 

“If you matched with any of the schools, the highest one that you matched with is the one that you get the scholarship,” Sergio said. “The scholarship is pretty much a full ride scholarship to the school and it’s binding.”

After researching and talking to an El Paso High alumnus who attends Princeton, Joel Fong, Sergio said he felt that Princeton was a perfect fit for him.

“Joel was telling me about how cool the campus was and that the classes and professors were amazing,” Sergio said. “Also, it’s in the Northeast. There are a lot of job opportunities in that part of the country. The school is great for what I want to major in and it just felt I couldn’t see a better school for me.”

While Sergio did get accepted into his dream school, he also applied to other prestigious universities around the country including Stanford, Yale, Rice, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sergio plans on studying biochemistry or neuroscience at Princeton and hopes to one day work in the science field. 

“I’m really interested in genetics and biotechnology,” Sergio said. “I’d really love to work for a big company developing biological products, or even start my own company and work on developing gene editing or biotech.” 

El Paso High’s history teacher, Mr. Lang, encouraged Sergio to apply to QuestBridge at the beginning of his college application process. Sergio said that Mr. Lang believed he would be a good fit for the scholarship.

“I looked into it and saw that I met all the requirements,” Sergio said. “I decided to go for it and apply.”

Sergio advises junior high school students to apply for as many scholarships as possible.

“Definitely look into all the scholarship opportunities that are out. There are so many scholarships that you can get,” Sergio said. “It’s more about being on top of everything” 

Sergio also said that even though he knows it’s going to be hard, he’s just looking forward to having that college experience and moving away to see a new part of the country. 

“I’m definitely looking forward to the dining clubs at Princeton. They’re these social clubs where it’s just good food in private dining halls,” Sergio said. “I’m 100 percent looking forward to all that amazing food. I know it’s probably going to be a lot harder than I am expecting, but right now I’m just super happy and cannot wait to finally go.”