“I Feel Like I Won the Lottery”

OHS senior Elizabeth Ortiz shares her experience as a Questbridge finalist


Yadira Vico

Ortiz maintaining her academics outside school

Yadira Vico, Managing Editor

“When I saw ‘Congratulations’…it seemed so unreal. My heart dropped,” said Oxnard High School senior Elizabeth Ortiz.

Ortiz was granted a full-ride scholarship, through Questbridge, to the University of Chicago, the 4th best college in the nation, according to U.S. News.

Questbridge is partnered with 35 universities that are willing to offer full-ride scholarships to “talented, low-income students [who] can navigate educational and life opportunities,” according to the Questbridge website.

The scholarship not only covers tuition, room and board, food, and books, but also, orientation, personal expenses, and airfare. “Since I got into the University of Chicago, and it’s far away from California, they actually give me air travel so I can come visit my family at least twice a year. It covers a lot of things. I feel like I won the lottery,” said Ortiz.

However, the University of Chicago was not always Ortiz’s first choice. “I have always been the student that tries so hard because I understand where my parents come from. We don’t have enough money. I’m the oldest so it’s kind of a lot of pressure. When I started high school, my goal was Berkeley because I had visited it through Upward Bound and I just loved it. I got all A’s, and I was so involved into going to that school. That was like my dream school. I wanted to get into Berkeley so bad,” said Ortiz.

“My personality showed through my writing a lot, and I kind of just expressed myself through it. So, I think that’s what really helped me,” said Ortiz, sharing her opinion on what she thinks made her application stand out.

Ortiz said, “My family makes a little bit of money. They work in the strawberry fields and we don’t get any support from the government at all. However, when I was researching the statistics for other students who had won the scholarship…The students were amazing and not only that, their financial income was way lower and my family was making like double what they had. What I think really set me apart financially was the fact that there’s five of us.”

“My parents came here because they wanted a better life for me. I haven’t accomplished much but I’m barely graduating high school. It’s just a little step towards reaching my goals,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz acknowledges that the support of her friends helped her through the application process. “[My friends] were really supportive. They would tell me ‘hey you have a really good chance’ and I have to admit that would help me a lot. That would encourage me to not give up,” said Ortiz.