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Kirkwood High School Senior Earns Full Four-Year Scholarship to Stanford University

Kirkwood High School senior Amaya Marion was announced as a recipient of a 2020 QuestBridge National College Match and will receive a full four-year scholarship to Stanford University. 


Amaya is known as a poetic change-seeker within the halls of Kirkwood High School. She avidly studies history, civil rights, and Chinese and is leading a charge of change. She also finds time to volunteer tutor students at Robinson Elementary and seeks out other opportunities to volunteer. One of her favorite places to volunteer outside of KSD is at Christian Friends of New Americans. There, she helps teach adults English Second Language (ESL) classes and citizenship classes to adults. Her favorite thing about volunteering is the relationships she builds with people. 


Amaya’s proudest moment was when she received the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study abroad in Xi’an, China during her sophomore year. At that time, she was in her fourth year of studying Chinese and yearned for the day she would be able to visit the country she spent so much time learning about. The program accepted 19.5% of student applicants. While in China, she learned extensively about the language and culture, but also about herself. The next year she decided that she wanted to take AP Chinese, even though Kirkwood does not offer the class. Amaya bought a textbook and self-studied for the exam. She ended up scoring a four on the AP exam. 


For Amaya, her family has always instilled the importance of a hard work ethic. Growing up, her parents were business owners. Her mom baked cakes, and her dad is a car electrician. They both put in long hours to support her family while still doing what they loved the most. Her parents have instilled in her that happiness and success are intertwined. Amaya knows that through finding happiness, you can achieve success in what you hope to gain from life. Amaya also has a brother named Evan, who attends Nipher Middle School in KSD.


KHS college and career counselor Abby Peterson shared much praise for Amaya. “Amaya will be a voice for the voiceless, the unspoken and the quiet truths that many never speak about,” said Peterson. “She connects herself to anyone that identifies as different, lost, curious, or seeking a higher purpose for social change. She has a clear vision of equity and equal opportunity for all, not just for some. She is patient yet persistent and knows that change can only come with acceptance and education. Amaya is goal-oriented and willing to put in the hard work for what is right and just. She leads by example. Many students and adults now follow her lead because of her strong and lasting relationships.”


More about QuestBridge:


QuestBridge announced the results of the 2020 QuestBridge National College Match, a national program that connects high-achieving high school seniors from low-income backgrounds with full four-year scholarships to the nation’s top colleges. Out of over 18,500 applicants, QuestBridge selected 6,885 Finalists to be considered for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship (Match Scholarship). This year, QuestBridge’s 42 college partners matched with a record number of 1,464 Finalists, who are recognized as Match Scholarship Recipients. 


"The achievements of our 2020 Match Scholarship Recipients are particularly exceptional in the midst of a year marked by challenging circumstances,” said Ana McCullough, CEO, and Co-Founder of QuestBridge. “The fact that our college partners awarded a record number of scholarships this year bolsters our hope for a brighter, more equitable future.”

Match Scholarship Recipients are admitted early to QuestBridge college partners with full four-year scholarships that are provided by the colleges and universities, ensuring for these students and their families that an education at a top college can be affordable. QuestBridge’s 42 college partners include top liberal arts colleges such as Amherst, Pomona, and Williams and exceptional research universities such as Columbia, Duke, UChicago, Stanford, and Yale. The Match Scholarship is offered as part of a generous financial aid package provided by the college that covers the full cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.

This year’s Match Scholarship Recipients come from 48 states, including the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico. 

These outstanding high school seniors have an average unweighted GPA of 3.93, and 94% are in the top 10% of their graduating class. Of the students who reported standardized testing, 82% scored above 1260 on the SAT and 84% scored above 27 on the ACT. Financially, 95% come from a household with an annual income under $65,000, and 87% qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. The majority of these new QuestBridge Scholars — 78% — are among the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college in the United States.

Since 2003, the QuestBridge National College Match has successfully connected over 8,850 students with full scholarships at college partners. These 2020 Match Scholarship Recipients become the first QuestBridge Scholars for the Class of 2025. Based on previous years, it is estimated that over 2,000 Finalists will be admitted to QuestBridge college partners later in the year through Early and Regular Decision processes. 

All Finalists who ultimately matriculate to QuestBridge college partners join the QuestBridge Scholars Network, which provides ongoing support and engagement opportunities through campus communities. The QuestBridge Scholars Network and Alumni Association now include over 19,000 current college students and graduates worldwide.

QuestBridge, a national nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California, connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading institutions of higher education and further life opportunities. By recruiting, developing, and motivating these students — beginning in high school through college to their early career — QuestBridge aims to help talented low-income students attend the nation’s best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their respective careers and communities.