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Student Spotlight: Vivian Mochizuki Barros, Franklin High School

(FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL – Jan. 13, 2023) – Six years ago Vivian Mochizuki Barros’ family moved to El Paso from Rio de Janeiro seeking better educational opportunities. The sacrifice paid off for the family and the Franklin senior who earned a full-ride scholarship to Princeton University through the QuestBridge Match program. Community Engagement interviewed Mochizuki Barros, one of El Paso ISD’s eight 2027 QuestBridge scholars, for this edition of Student Spotlight.


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

Vivian Mochizuki Barros: I’d like to eventually become a pharmacologist or a research pharmacist. With QuestBridge, I’m able to focus on my education and work towards my career goals without having to worry about paying off debt.  


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

VMB: I’m looking forward to the intellectual environment there the most. It’ll be nice to be surrounded by people with different backgrounds with unique stories and knowledge to share. I love learning from other people so I’m excited about that! 


EPISD: Tell us about your passion for molecular biology and how your education at Princeton will further your career goals?  

VMB: I’ve always been interested in science but taking medical microbiology in my junior year really cemented my thought about going into molecular biology. At Princeton, I will be able to receive a high-quality education that will prepare me for my graduate studies in pharmacy school. 


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

VMB: Since Princeton is covering the full cost of attending, I am only applying for a few smaller scholarships.  


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

VMB: I have competed in HOSA, TSA, FBLA, and FCCLA. Last year, my team and I placed first place at regionals in HOSA and got to compete at the state competition in Galveston where we placed fourth overall. I’ve also qualified for state in orchestra and TSA. Throughout high school, I’ve won the National Hispanic Recognition Scholar award and the AP Scholar award given by CollegeBoard, and the QuestBridge College Prep Scholar award in my junior year. 


EPISD: What other extracurricular activities are you involved in?  

VMB: I’m mostly involved in HOSA – Future Health Professionals, as I am currently the chapter president and I’ve been in it for all my four years of high school. Princeton University has a HOSA chapter, too, so I’m really excited about that! Besides HOSA, I’m also one of the founders for Asian-Pacific Islander Club and FCCLA. I’m involved in FBLA, Orchestra, TSA and NHS. 


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

VMB: Starting with joining HOSA in my freshman year, I learned so much through being in a club. I got to meet so many people, help my community, and travel to competitions. I realized the value of being in extracurriculars at my school and I wanted to join all the clubs and be involved in as much as I could. 


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

VMB: I usually practice violin, which I’ve been playing for the past 10 years. Besides that, I also like to read, watch movies, and listen to music.  


EPISD: Tell us about the Asian or Pacific-Islander Club you recently started? What made you want to start it? 

VMB: My friend Olivia and I wanted to provide a place for people of Asian or Pacific-Islander descent to be able to find a community within the school to be able to share our cultures. We also wanted to raise awareness of the injustices that occur today. Recently, we had a tea party where people brought in tea and desserts from different Asian cultures. It was a success!


EPISD: What was it like to live in Brazil? When did you move to El Paso and why? 

VMB: It was very different. I lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the environment there is the complete opposite from here. The weather is humid, and you’re surrounded by beautiful trees. My family and I moved to El Paso about six years ago in search of a better education. Although it was a sacrifice to leave everything I knew behind, we knew the education there could not bring you very far. I was so happy when I matched with Princeton, as now I know everything was worth it. 


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

VMB: Look into “essays that worked” that got students into top colleges! Writing a college essay is so different than writing an English essay, so make sure you understand what they are looking for. I feel that my essays were one of the strongest parts of my application, which helped me a lot. 

Research colleges thoroughly, especially when you are ranking them. The match is legally binding, so you don’t want to be stuck with a college you don’t want to go to. Looking back, some colleges on my list were ones I didn’t like that much, and I wouldn’t have been happy if I did end up matching with them. 

Believe in yourself! Having to write all these essays about yourself, you’re going to learn a lot. To anyone who is looking to apply, surround yourself with people that are going to support you and help you through the process. You got this! 

EPISD: Anything you’d like to add?   

VMB: I'm so grateful for this amazing opportunity and everyone that helped me in this process. Just a few months ago, I never would've thought I'd be going to such a great school on a full-ride scholarship. I'm also really thankful for all my friends, teachers, and family members that supported me through everything.