Omar C.'s Story

"You have your whole life to plan your career, and college is one of the few places dedicated to exploring your interest in learning. These are the peak times in your life to learn." 

Raised by immigrant parents in Conroe, Texas, Omar Cabello never imagined attending college out of state. Omar was content with potentially attending a local community or state college due to his family's financial constraints. 

However, his vision for the future expanded when he learned about QuestBridge from a QB Alum who attended his high school. Intrigued by the potential opportunities, Omar decided to apply.

As the first in his family to pursue higher education outside of Texas, Omar took pride in using resources and guidance available to him. With no immediate family members to offer advice, he embraced the support provided by QuestBridge and other mentors. "Starting the QuestBridge application made me think about what other resources are out there to assist me. There's so many online resources and so many ways to get help with what you want to do," Omar said.

While applying for the QuestBridge National College Match, Omar also helped his family get acquainted with his desire to pursue higher education outside of Texas. Omar's two older siblings attended community college in Texas, so the prospect of his moving away for college posed a new challenge for his parents.

"I told them I was flying to colleges out of state, so questions arose, like how are you going to get there? How are you going to get all your stuff there? I was more in the mindset of, ‘as long as I get the opportunity to go there, I'll make the opportunity possible. I kind of just assured them that it'll work out."

Despite his family being unable to guide him through the process, these important people served as his motivation to attend college. "No one else in my family has gone to a four-year university, and I have a younger sibling and cousins as well. I wanted to be the example because I had the capabilities to do so."

When December 1 finally arrived, Omar was thrilled to learn that he had been matched to Pomona College. At the start of his first year there, Omar began maximizing the opportunities available to him on campus, starting with joining a program to receive mentorship in economics. "I knew I was going into college and that it's a different playing field, and I think I was very much aware that I have to take advantage of my resources," he said. Omar became a mentor in the same program, helping him build his leadership skills and give back to his college community.

With opportunities like this available on campus, Omar was committed to his personal development. "You have your whole life to plan your career, and college is one of the few places dedicated to exploring your interest in learning. These are the peak times in your life to learn." 

Learning more about himself and his interests, Omar formed new goals for his future. In high school, Omar had a strong interest in the STEM field, but that interest solidified in college. "One of my career goals is to give back to my community by giving them the knowledge I learned about finance. I formed this just by taking those kinds of courses and involving myself in clubs," he said.

After his experience with the Match, Omar now feels that all opportunities are possible. "I think a big part of me felt that it almost seemed unreasonable to apply. I didn't expect it to work out, and I overcame that challenge by talking to my peers who were in similar situations or had already been through the situation," he said. "It is possible to attend top schools, and you don't have to tie yourself down due to the financial burden of college."

Reflecting on what he's discovered in college, Omar shared, "I've learned it always works out in some kind of way. You may initially think it will work out one way, but two months from now, it will work out differently. I think that's really the beauty of it, because when you have one plan, the future has another plan for you. You just have to adapt to what happens."