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Student Spotlight: Natalia Diaz, El Paso High

(EL PASO HIGH SCHOOL – Dec. 19, 2022) – Princeton University-bound senior Natalia Diaz can’t wait to head to the Ivy League school next fall – not just for the stellar academics but to experience all four seasons. Diaz, the youngest of 12 siblings, is one of eight El Paso ISD students who earned a full-ride scholarship Dec. 1 through the QuestBridge Match program. Community Engagement interviewed her virtually for this edition of Student Spotlight.


EPISD: What are your career goals and how will QuestBridge help you achieve them? 

Natalia Diaz: I'm a little unsure about my career goals, but I've been considering law school. In addition to relieving the cost of my undergraduate degree, QuestBridge is giving me access to a stellar undergraduate education at Princeton. 


EPISD: What do you most look forward to at Princeton? 

ND: I'm really looking forward to getting involved at Princeton, but also experiencing four seasons for the first time. I'm really excited to experience a real autumn season, and to see the colorful foliage of leaves. I'm also looking forward to having snow more often, although I will have to get used to it. 


EPISD: Tell us about how your education at Princeton will further your career goals? 

ND: I have always had a passion for English and literature. Although I am considering law school, I am pursuing an undergraduate degree in English and the program at Princeton is nationally ranked. 


EPISD: What made you want to go to Princeton?

ND: When ranking schools, I had trouble deciding between Yale and Princeton for my No. 1 spot. I remember thinking it really didn't matter since neither would accept me anyways. I ended up putting Yale first, and Princeton second. I told myself God would decide for me. I couldn't be more grateful with how things turned out. On a slightly unrelated note, when I was younger, I had to do a project on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I ended up choosing a princess. I recently rewatched “A Cinderella Story,” and I remembered the quote where Sam, the main character, asked, "Where do princesses go to college?" And her dad responded, "Uh, they go, uh, where the princes go. They go to Princeton." I thought of my younger self then, and how endearing it would be if I got into Princeton, like I was in some sort of way fulfilling her dream. 


EPISD: What other top scholarships are you currently in the running for or have received? 

ND: While applying for QuestBridge, I also applied for the Gates Scholarship and was selected as a semifinalist, however now with QuestBridge I don't have to worry about the full cost of my education. I am planning to apply for a small scholarship to cover the cost of a laptop for college. 


EPISD: What are your honors and achievements in high school?

ND: I have had A Honor Roll since elementary school. My sophomore year, I received an Academic Letterman award given to the top five students in the class. In the spring of 2021, I was named an AP Scholar with Honors, and was selected as an Essential Tiger in late 2021. In spring of 2022, I was selected as a QuestBridge College Prep Scholar, and in the fall of 2022, I was named a QuestBridge National College Match Finalist. 


EPISD: What other extracurricular activities are you involved in?

ND: At school, I am the secretary of the National Honor Society, a member of the Spanish Honor Society, a Tiger Tutor, a Magnet Ambassador, a member of mock trial, a participant in Book Club, and a library courtesy. 

EPISD: Why has it been important to you to get involved in school?

ND: I find it really important to get involved at school in order to interact with my peers, but most importantly contribute to my community through service projects and participation in events. As NHS secretary, I'm always looking for opportunities to plan events to involve other students in helping our community, and as a Tiger Tutor, I hope to help other students deepen their knowledge of subjects and improve their test-taking skills. 


EPISD: What is your rank?

ND: I am currently ranked fourth out of 365 students.


EPISD: What have you been doing outside of school activities?

ND: Outside of school, I spend a lot of time with my family. Along with having 11 siblings, I also have a lot of nieces and nephews whom I enjoy spending time with. I'm also currently learning guitar and enjoy writing songs, poems and stories. 


EPISD: What's it like having 11 siblings?

ND: Having 11 siblings is kind of crazy, but sometimes I forget how unusual it can be to others. For me, it's just everyday life, although it can get really chaotic. I'm the youngest of my siblings, so I'm No. 12. Most of my siblings have moved out, but Sunday evenings and holidays, we all get together. A symphony of sounds fills my small home on a Sunday evening, comprised of children, screaming and laughing as they race through the halls, featuring a percussion of plates and toys.


EPISD: What advice would you give students interested in applying for QuestBridge?

ND: If any students are interested in QuestBridge, I have no better advice than to say, “apply!” Do some quick research and see if you meet the requirements. It can be a lot of work, but it's definitely worth it. You have nothing to lose, and it’s an incredible opportunity. Believe in yourself. You’re capable of accomplishing much more than you know. Research the schools themselves to see which one fits you and take the risk. I never thought I would have matched to my dream school, but I'm so happy I took the opportunity. 


EPISD: Anything you’d like to add?

ND: I can't express how grateful I am for this opportunity. I still can't believe any of this is real.