Kai C.'s Story

“Transitioning to college was a big change, but I had a lot of support from the QSN and other mentors.”

After spending the first fourteen years of their life in China, Kai Chen moved with his family to Carson City, Nevada. “My high school in Nevada was not the fanciest school, but some of our students and teachers were really resourceful,” Kai explained. “I was really hoping to go to college after high school, but worried that financial reasons could stand in the way. Some of the students in the class ahead of me told me about QuestBridge and talked about what might be possible.”

Kai went to their counselor and asked if QuestBridge was a real option. “She was fantastic,” Kai said. “She helped me to learn all about QuestBridge and the different programs available. My counselor encouraged me to apply to the College Prep Scholars Program as a high school junior.”

With his counselor’s support, Kai took a chance on the College Prep Scholars Program and was admitted. “The most helpful part of being a College Prep Scholar was the conference. I traveled to California to visit Pomona College and got so many of my questions answered. It wasn’t until that time at Pomona that I realized that going to one of these high-ranked colleges might be more affordable than a state school. Those few days in California took away a lot of the overwhelm about college.”

The following year, Kai worked on their National College Match application. “When I thought about which schools to rank, I wanted to be very careful about only ranking schools that I would be 100% happy going to,” Kai explained. “Realistically, I was hoping to get into a college through Regular Decision, because I know more QuestBridge students are admitted that way. When I found out that I had been matched to Duke, I lost my mind. I called my dad and we were so excited.”

Kai moved to North Carolina in 2020 to start college. Charting their path, Kai decided to major in Economics and Asian Studies. Kai also got involved with multiple professional clubs, an LGBTQ+ group, a club for first-generation and low-income students, and the QuestBridge Scholars Network (QSN). “Transitioning to college was a big change, but I had a lot of support from the QSN and other mentors,” Kai shared. “I have been able to get so many questions answered from my QB peers. It’s because of everything that I have gotten from this community that I really want to show up for younger students in that same way.”

Leaning into this desire to give back, Kai served as a National College Admissions Conference volunteer in 2023. “I know that applying to college can be overwhelming,” Kai said. “I wanted to be an example for College Prep Scholars that getting in is achievable. On top of that, my experience as a volunteer was made that much more special by the fact I worked the conference at Pomona College, the very same place I attended a conference years ago. It was moving to see how far I have come.”

Looking ahead, Kai has accepted a full-time position at Barclays, a financial institution, and hopes to someday pursue an MBA. When asked about words of wisdom they would share with others, Kai said that “there is no downside to trying any QuestBridge programs. … Applying in itself is a process of self-growth. Take your best shot and trust that it will work out one way or another.”