Calvin G.'s Story

“As a College Prep Scholar, QuestBridge recognized the potential in me, allowing me to apply to my dream colleges and universities without having to worry about application fees."

When Calvin Goah received a letter in the mail inviting him to apply to a program intended to help students like himself begin their path to a top-tier university, he was sure that what QuestBridge offered was too good to be true. Despite his skepticism, he applied to the College Prep Scholars Program and was accepted. He was invited to attend the National College Admissions Conference and received an all-expense-paid visit to one of QuestBridge’s college partners.

Wanting to take full advantage of the awards he received as a College Prep Scholar, Calvin just had to figure out how to get from Indiana to Illinois for the National College Admissions Conference. “I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license, and everyone in my household spent all their time at work, so I had to figure out how I was going to get to the conference on limited funds,” Calvin said.

Fortunately, Calvin had a supportive community that believed in his potential to attend one of the nation’s best universities. Calvin’s high school mentor, Jim, drove him to Northwestern University for the conference and attended the guest sessions. Jim was pleasantly surprised by what he learned. “He was as flabbergasted as I was that something like QuestBridge existed for economically challenged but intellectually gifted students like myself," Calvin shared. "The entire experience was an eye opener for both of us and made it possible to imagine that attending a top academic institution was even a possibility.”

Calvin’s support extended beyond his mentor. During the application process for the National College Match, he accepted guidance from all types of sources. His friends and educators edited his essays and wrote recommendations for his applications. Calvin’s college application journey would not have been the same without the assistance he received from peers and QuestBridge. “As a College Prep Scholar, QuestBridge recognized the potential in me, allowing me to apply to my dream colleges and universities without having to worry about application fees. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to apply to the number of schools I did without that simple but riveting fact," Calvin shared.

All of the work he put into his applications ultimately resulted in success. On December 1, 2014, Calvin received the exciting news that he had matched to Columbia University. Calvin credits his support system — especially his mother — for helping him to reach his full potential and gain admission to Columbia with a full four-year scholarship. “Even though she may not have known exactly how to get me to a top college, she told me early on that I was going to attend one. She did her best to instill in me the love of learning and gave me the autonomy to be able to make the decisions that would eventually take me to a top college” Calvin said.

As a student, Calvin was involved in several organizations, including Columbia’s QuestBridge Scholars Network Chapter, and he even volunteered at the 2016 National College Admissions Conference at Stanford University. His experience as a student helped him find his passions. “College has taught me to pursue what I want unapologetically. I’m the one who is most familiar with what the finished products of my dreams look like,” Calvin shared. Calvin graduated from Columbia University in 2019 with a computer science degree and went on to work as a software engineer.