Firebaugh High School senior Kimberly Wenceslao still remembers her first college visit to an East Coast campus three years ago when the unfamiliarity of a new environment left her in tears.
Wenceslao, who had rarely journeyed beyond her Lynwood community, said she was overwhelmed by culture shock. But she was also determined to see what the world had to offer, and would soon visit new colleges each summer as a part of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program, including Princeton, Skidmore College and Dartmouth College.
Wenceslao’s ambition recently paid off in a big way as she was accepted to her dream school, Yale University.
“Yale is an opportunity that I would’ve never imagined I would have when I was growing up,” Wenceslao said. “It means the world to me, and also to the community around me because it shows all of us that we can reach our dreams.”
Wenceslao will attend Yale through a QuestBridge scholarship, which will cover her full cost of attendance for all four years, as well as books and travel expenses. QuestBridge scholars are typically in the top 5 to 10 percent of their graduating classes and score 1310 or better on their SAT or PSAT.
Wenceslao, a first-generation college student, is determined to forge a path for her peers and younger sister.
“We are extremely proud of Kimberly and are excited to see what the future has in store for her,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “Kimberly is a role model for our District and a reminder to all of us that we can accomplish anything when we work together.”
An I.B. student with a 4.38 GPA, Wenceslao is a well-rounded student who plays varsity tennis and is a part of the Firebaugh theater program. She plans to major in psychology but said she may ultimately pursue law to follow her passion for advocacy.
Wenceslao credits the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Program for helping to expand her world. She visited the Nation’s Capital building last summer where she engaged in healthy debates, and took a biomedical class at Yale, where she fell in love with the culture and was impressed to find an authentic taco stand within the community.