“Going to a prestigious college always felt like a far-fetched dream, and QuestBridge really made it a reality.”
Brianna, Colorado College
Hometown: Hockley, Texas
Brianna Fuentes had never heard of anyone at her high school considering — let alone attending — a top college. Born and raised in Hockley, Texas, Brianna shared that while her parents have always worked hard, “We still have struggled financially for most of my life.”
During her junior year of high school, Brianna saw a photograph online that changed her academic trajectory: “One of my friends posted a picture of her friend in front of Stanford with an ‘I am so proud of her’ caption.” Because Brianna had never known anyone who had been accepted to such a prestigious university, Brianna reached out to the Stanford student in the picture to learn about her experience. “She told me about the QuestBridge College Prep Scholars Program. … I was so intrigued and decided to apply,” Brianna explained.
Despite her strong academic record, before learning about QuestBridge, Brianna described her college plans as “uncertain.” After being accepted to the College Prep Scholars Program, her perspective changed: “Going to a prestigious college always felt like a far-fetched dream, and QuestBridge really made it a reality” said Brianna.
Through the College Prep Scholars Program, Brianna learned about the college admissions process. “I saw the benefits and resources that a private liberal arts education could afford me,” Brianna shared. “I started to look at schools I had never even heard of and truly began picturing myself being successful there.”
When the time came to complete the National College Match application, Brianna took charge of her goals. “Everyone did their best to be as helpful as they could, but it was on me to take initiative and find resources, because I was not placed in an environment that had many,” Brianna shared. “While it was absolutely challenging, the chance of getting a full ride made it so worth it. I knew that the application was so intricate because QuestBridge was setting up a portfolio to look at me as a full person: student, daughter, sister, community member, and friend. I knew that this was an organization that was worth fighting to be a part of.”
Fortunately, as she navigated the college application process, Brianna had the support of family on her side: “My mom was my rock and did everything she possibly could to help me. … My family has always been my motivation. I wanted to be able to do for my family everything my parents hoped and prayed for us,” Brianna said. “I loved to learn and wanted to get the best education that could be offered to me, while paving a way to financial freedom for my family.”
Brianna describes Match Day as “overwhelmingly joyful.” “I had just gotten back from participating in Colorado College’s fly-in program where I became sure that was my number one choice,” Brianna explained. “As soon as I saw the congratulations banner, I burst into tears. I first called my mom and dad while at work and we were all crying. We were only just beginning to understand what a blessing this would be and what it would mean for the rest of my life. It changed the entire trajectory of my family's legacy for generations to come. I then ran to tell my best friend (now fiancé) to tell him it looked like I was moving to Colorado. It is still one of the happiest days of my life.”
While studying Computer Science and Chicanx Studies, at Colorado College, Brianna was also involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including serving as Captain of the Admissions Ambassadors, working as an Outreach and Access intern, and joining a Latinx affinity group, a dance team, Greek Life, Coding Club, and even the Colorado College President’s Council.
“College has taught me so much about myself and has taught me to pursue knowledge, truth, people, and experiences,” Brianna shared. “I learned so much about how I fit into the world around me as a Chicana woman and learned how to both stand firm in what I believe and unteach myself a lot of ignorance that has been passed down around me. I learned how to fight for justice and fight for myself. I am not the same person I was when I entered college, but I met my best friends in the whole world and I got to see myself learn and grow outside of the confines of my small town. I grew such an appreciation for my faith, my culture, and my community.”
In considering what to pursue following her graduation from Colorado College, Brianna noted another important lesson learned during her undergraduate years: “College taught me that I want to do so much more than have a good job, but I want to be able to do good at my job,” Brianna explained. “I learned that I love being in a leadership position, fighting for others, and having intentional conversations. Luckily, I feel confident that I can still pursue my passion for computer science while also pursuing my passion to lift up the Latinx community.”
Since graduating, Brianna has accepted a position at Qualtrics in Provo, Utah. “I will be using my degree in Computer Science to work to help solve problems for customers!” Brianna explained. “I was really looking for something that I was enthusiastic about that also had a lot of room for growth.”
Thinking back on her experience as a whole, Brianna shared two important lessons: “I think the most important lessons I have learned are to know that it is okay to ask for help. Whether that is in everyday life, dealing with mental health, applying to college or to your first job out of college, life can be really overwhelming, but we are not meant to do life alone. Having a support system around you really can change everything! The other big thing would be that you are never an imposter. Wherever you are or whatever you are doing, you earned and deserve to be there just like everyone else. You definitely belong.”