Jessica Ty

Maria Guerrero and Zarif Caesar are the two QuestBridge Finalists that received full scholarships to one of their desired universities.

Jessica Ty, Photographer

With the help of the Questbridge Scholarship, two of Seminole’s very own high-achieving students received the news of their dreams on Dec. 2, 2019. The lives of these finalists forever changed upon discovering they were matched to one of their selected universities. Both receiving full-ride scholarships, Maria Guerrero and Zarif Ceaser have persevered through their adversities and are prepared to benefit from the fruits of their labor.

QuestBridge is a non-profit program that provides ambitious, low-income students the opportunity to attend one of the top U.S. colleges and universities. High school seniors who decide to apply for QuestBridge must first complete an extensive application, expressing their personal stories. In 2018, out of 16,248 applications, only 6,507 students were selected as National College Match Finalists. Of the Finalists, 1,044 students matched to a QuestBridge college partner, receiving a full four-year College Match Scholarship. 

Born and raised in Colombia until the age of nine, Guerrero has always had a passion for school and a drive to reach for her dreams. However, after moving from her comfortable life and respected status in Colombia, her family had to start from nothing, but the help of her aunt and uncle. This change greatly affected her self-esteem and attitude towards life; she started comparing herself with the typical American-teenager and struggled to learn English. She began to suffer from anorexia, as it was her way of coping with these changes. To find the best treatment, she moved back to Colombia. 

Going back to my roots in Colombia really shaped who I am today. After I came back [from Colombia] and matured, l learned what is actually important in life like being happy and doing good for others. I started recognizing my parents’ sacrifice, which is insane to me. My parents’ sacrifice is what I am most proud of,” said Guerrero. 

As a result of her Questbridge match acceptance, she will be attending Notre Dame for the upcoming 2020 fall semester. 

Almost falling off his seat while staring at the computer screen in disbelief, Ceaser, too, unexpectedly received confirmation that he has been matched to Northwestern University. Ceaser, a Bengali student, is the second QuestBridge finalist. Since his father works limited hours at a gas station, Ceaser learned how to meticulously plan out his day, from clubs such as the Sanford Mayor’s Youth Council to volunteering at the Orlando Science Center. His supportive family contributed to his passion 

I like helping people, so most of my service targeted towards helping kids and students. My main passion is computers. I want to become a software engineer and I also want to make apps, making an impact in people’s lives,” said Ceaser.

Both these students refused to let their adversities stop them from reaching their full potential. Enthusiastic for the future, both Guerrero and Ceaser strive to be sources of inspiration and hope to others.

“[For] someone who has lost hope, I want to be able to show them the beauty of life in any way I can: being a doctor, listening to them, or helping kids go to school. I want them to realize there is so much to life,” said Guerrero

This is only the beginning of Guerrero and Ceaser’s journey. They have shown determination and endurance through their high school years and are now ready to begin the next episode in their lives. To register or check eligibility for the questbridge scholarship, please visit www.questbridge.org/high-school-students/national-college-match and tag us in photos of your journey!