Student Spotlight: Katherine Ware-Hernandez, Chapin High School
(CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL – Jan. 31, 2023) – Katherine Ware-Hernandez is one of eight El Paso ISD seniors earning a full-ride scholarship in the QuestBridge Match program. The JROTC cadet and Chapin High mariachi, who’s No. 5 in her class, will join two other El Paso ISD matches at Princeton University this fall.
EPISD: How did you feel when you opened the email from QuestBridge?
Katherine Ware-Hernandez: Upon opening the email, I was utterly shocked. It didn't click for me that I would match and, not to mention, with a school like Princeton. There was such intense relief and awe at the stressful journey up to that point finally reaching its end and producing an outcome I could be proud of.
EPISD: What does matching with Princeton mean to you?
KWH: Matching with Princeton means everything to me. If it hadn't been for that, then I'm not confident I would have had the support to attend college. With Princeton, I can take the next step forward in my education and hopefully make those coming in the future a bit easier.
EPISD: What made you want to go to Princeton?
KWH: I enjoy literature and the arts, and Princeton has nationally-ranked programs that generally make it a great school to attend. Princeton was just shy of being my first choice as it was ranked fifth on my list. Even if it wasn't my first choice, I am unbelievably happy about being able to call it my future.
EPISD: How will being a QuestBridge Match make a difference for you?
KWH: I had a lot of fear about being able to provide for myself and my education financially, so being a QuestBridge Match recipient takes that weight off my shoulders. I know that everyone has the ability to do and be something great, but the difference between knowing and experiencing is immense.
EPISD: What activities are you involved in at Chapin?
KWH: Most of my activities are some forms of music like orchestra and mariachi, but on the stricter side, JROTC is just as fun. The activities are a good combination of expression and community.
EPISD: Tell us what it's like to be in Chapin's mariachi group?
KWH: It’s as easy as breathing but carries excitement and joy that runs deeper than can be imagined. I look forward to it every day because I love the people in the group in the same way I love the music we create. It’s like coming back home after a long day.
EPISD: What are your career goals and how will QuestBridge help you achieve them?
KWH: My career goals are stability, improvement of time management skills, and being a mentor for someone else. Through QuestBridge, I can be a mentor for aspiring finalists, work towards a clear stability, and better time-management skills by handling college and other life demands.
EPISD: What do you look most forward to at Princeton?
KWH: Being away from home, learning from the people I am surrounded by, and possessing the full freedom of an individual are all simultaneously what I am most excited for at Princeton.
EPISD: How will Princeton further your career goals?
KWH: Princeton will give me the ability to attain a career that I’ll love, along with the resources, network, and skills to actually succeed in the career in such a way that my goals will be met and perhaps exceeded.
EPISD: What other top scholarships are you currently in the running for or have received?
KWH: The only other scholarship I received was an AP Scholars award of $500 which I used to buy a school computer. I was really betting it all on the QuestBridge Match because the other scholarships I applied for fell through.
EPISD: What are your honors and achievements in high school?
• AP Scholar with Distinction 2022
• QuestBridge Prep Scholar 2022
• Superior Junior Cadet Decoration 2021
• Oratorical Contest, the American Legion, second place in 2021
• Orienteering Novice Course, first place, 2021
• UIL Mariachi, rating of 1, 2022 – first ever in the district to achieve this rating
• UIL Solo and Ensemble, rating of 1, 2022
EPISD: Why has it been important to you to get involved in school?
KWH: I feel as though I am wasting time and opportunities if I am not constantly doing something to be productive. It gives me peace of mind. I knew that I wanted to go to college when I was done with high school, and one of the best ways I knew I could get there was through deep involvement in school.
EPISD: What have you been doing outside of school activities?
KWH: Outside of school activities, I’m basically a homebody. I spend my time reading and rewatching the same handful of movies and shows or enjoying time with family and friends.
EPISD: What advice would you give students interested in applying for QuestBridge?
KWH: Don’t shy away from the opportunity that is being provided and believe in yourself and your accomplishments. Filling out the applications may seem daunting but, in the end, things will fall into place and be as they are meant to.