EPISD Student Spotlight: Caleb Choi, Franklin High
(FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL -- Jan. 3, 2022) — Franklin senior Caleb Choi earned a life-changing, full-ride scholarship to Washington University in St. Louis through QuestBridge earlier this month. The future entrepreneur, who is also a finalist for the Gates Scholarship, has earned state-wide accolades in DECA and even started a K-Pop Club at school to promote appreciation of the Korean culture. Community Engagement sat down with him virtual for this edition of the EPISD Student Spotlight.
EPISD: What are your career goals and how will QuestBridge help you achieve them?
CALEB CHOI: In the future, I desire to either join and lead a marketing team or start my own business to further pursue my future endeavors. With the burden of financial issues being lifted off my shoulders, Questbridge will help me completely focus on my academic, social, and mental health in university.
EPISD: What do you look most forward to at Washington University at St. Louis?
CC: Moving to El Paso in the fifth grade, I grew to appreciate the people more than anything this city provided. At WashU, I look forward to meeting the amazing people there.
EPISD: Tell us about starting Leaders United for Change in El Paso and why you started the nonprofit organization here during the pandemic?
CC: The mission of the organization is to mentor low-income students who are limited on resources because of the pandemic. I have not been as active lately due to Questbridge. In the beginning, I assisted my best friend, Eric Min, in starting Leaders United for Change in El Paso because I admired his vision, determination, and care that he had for the community. I felt called to support him and my people.
EPISD: What other top scholarships are you currently in the running for or have received?
CC: On the same date the results for the Match came out, I also received news that I was one of the 2,000 semi-finalists chosen in the nation for The Gates Scholarship. It truly is an honor.
EPISD: Tell us about your involvement in DECA and how it will be preparing you for your future?
CC: DECA has been the highlight of my high school career. Competition and the overall “hype” around state and internationals has truly been such meaningful moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The business concepts that I learn through this club are giving me a head start in business knowledge and will assist me in my future endeavors. I want to thank DECA sponsor Mrs. Knapp for taking me under her wing and fully supporting me along my high school and DECA journey.
EPISD: What kind of entrepreneur do you want to become?
CC: I am not a 100 percent sure of what type of business I would like to start, but I do know I will be leading it with servant leadership, just like my dad’s leadership with the church.
EPISD: Tell us about starting a K-Pop Club at Franklin High? What has the club done so far?
CC: Starting K-Pop Club at school was tricky but fun! I made the club to further diversify the school and expand my Korean culture to other students. It was quite hard during the pandemic and activities were limited to Among Us, Korean Movies, and chit chats; however, now we will be watching K-Dramas every other week and eating Korean snacks together!
EPISD: What other extracurricular activities are you involved in?
CC: Other extracurricular activities that I am also a part of are: National Honor Society (NHS) and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). National Honor Society has opened a range of opportunities for me to strengthen the bonds with the people of El Paso. FBLA is very similar to DECA and has opened a different community of other business interested individuals for me to have fun with.
EPISD: What are your honors and achievements in high school?
CC: My honors and achievements consist of: Questbridge College Prep Scholar (2021); DECA District winner/State qualifier – Sports and Entertainment Marketing (2019-2020); DECA District winner/State qualifier – Marketing Management (2020-2021); FBLA District Finalist 2nd place/ State Finalist 4th place/ National Qualifier – International Business (2020-2021); and InnerView Ambassador (2021).
EPISD: What are you involved in outside of school?
CC: First, as president of my Church Youth Group, I devote a lot of my time to preparing fellowship activities, practicing and leading worship for Sundays, and making sure that everyone there has a fun time. Second, I love to lock myself in my room and either play guitar or sing a cover of a song for my Instagram music account. This has been my main outlook of expression and will be something I continue to pursue throughout my life.
EPISD: What advice would you give students interested in applying for QuestBridge?
CC: 1. Do it! Who knows? You might get a full ride. 2. Start early. I started this process last December. It took a year of commitment to get to where I am today. 3. Apply to Questbridge College Prep Scholars. It is so important! 4. Talk to your college counselor! I cannot thank Ms. Schoenbrun enough for how much she has supported me in my Questbridge journey. 5. Talk with Questbridge Scholars, they will be your best friends.
Most importantly, do not procrastinate and be willing to sacrifice temporary things. I did not go to all my football games. I sometimes worked on my applications during lunch. And I had to decline fun offers. Was it all worth it? Yes, yes it was. Now, I can spend my second semester doing all the temporary things that I missed out on with the satisfaction that I can go to WashU for free.
EPISD: Anything you’d like to add?
CC: To my friends, I thank you for expressing your never-ending love towards me. To my teachers and counselor, I thank you for fully supporting and assisting me along my college journey. To Laurine and Eleanor (former Franklin Questbridge Match Recipients), I thank you for your endless support in my Questbridge journey ever since the beginning. To my youth pastor, Mark, I thank you for taking me under your wing and discipling me. To my parents, I thank you for motivating me to never stop chasing my dream and blessing me throughout my whole life, you truly are my best friends. And finally, thank you Questbridge for changing my life.