“QuestBridge has been THE best Google search I’ve ever made.”
Javaughn, Yale University
Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida
Originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, Javaughn Lawrence later moved with his family to South Florida, where he attended a large high school in Deerfield Beach Though his mother didn’t graduate high school, she had very high hopes for her only child, insisting that he attend college, no matter what it took. “My mom’s initial plan was that, ‘hey, you’re going to go to community college or a state school, and if I have to work a lot of extra hours to make sure that you can go, I’m going to do that.’”
As a first generation college student, academically Javaughn grew up being quite independent. “In middle school or high school, if I had a specific question about homework, I had to be much more resourceful about how I got the answers,” he shares.
His high school was large and mainly consisted of low-income students, who rarely went onto college. But as a part of a more focused IB program, more of his classmates went to college, usually staying in-state. Few went out-of-state to pursue higher education.
One fateful day, Javaughn was googling scholarships when he came across QuestBridge. He filed it away in his head until he received a serendipitous e-mail from QuestBridge only a few weeks later. He didn’t realize at the time that it would “drastically change my life.”
After being selected for the College Prep Scholars Program, he attended the QuestBridge conference at Yale University the summer before senior year. “It was an amazing experience…informative and eye-opening,” he says of the conference, where he met like-minded students with similar backgrounds, some of whom are still “to this day, some of my good friends.” Reflecting further, he felt that one of the best things he learned was that he “could go to a top four-year university at no cost.” When he got home, he shared what he learned with his mother, who was at that time, as incredulous as he was.
A few months later, Javaughn applied to college through QuestBridge and was matched to Yale University. He didn’t fully realize the extent of the opportunity, until he received his financial aid package and saw how little his student contribution was. That’s when it really sunk in that his future had changed.
“QuestBridge has fundamentally altered the course of my life,” he says.
With a friendly and open-minded personality, Javaughn had no problem adjusting to his new life at Yale. He used freshman year to explore a lot of different subjects ranging from political science, to economics, to computer science, and in sophomore year settled on economics as his major. Socially, he made a lot of new friends easily — perhaps too easily, learning later on that it would be impossible for him to manage friendships with so many people. He joined a fraternity, a leadership organization, and focused on connecting with people with varied backgrounds.
But there were some new aspects to grapple with: when he settled on his academic focus, he had to figure out ways to make sure he was utilizing resources effectively. “I realized where to actually access the resources I needed to do well, like going to the economics department on Fridays at 4 pm to speak with the TA to get the help I needed, or finding the right friends within my major that I could work with…”
His freshman roommate also provided an eye-opening perspective, coming from a relatively well-off background, who provided Javaughn with insight on how “the other half lived.” While his roommate felt his room was small and confining, for example, Javaughn thought to himself that it was the best place he’d ever lived.
Some of his friends he met at the Yale conference — who were now classmates at Yale — remained constant fixtures in his college life. While he says that most of his friends were from other networks, he also acknowledges that these “Questies” were always there for him.
Javaughn graduated Yale in 2014 and is now a management consultant with Bain and Company, where, in addition to traveling the country and working with lots of different companies in different industries, he feels a new responsibility to “pull up as many people as I can through [QuestBridge],” by being a strong role model for future applicants. He also feels that “QuestBridge has been THE best Google search I’ve ever made.”