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Ian Sykes matches with Holy Cross


On December 1, QuestBridge released the name of 50 high school seniors who matched with their chosen schools and were awarded a full scholarship.

Seniors go through a grueling application process for these prestigious awards. From a pool of 20,000 students, ten percent of those students become finalists. From the pool of 2,000 finalists, fifty students are matched with their chosen school.

Before this year, Sykes had never heard of QuestBridge and was not even sure he would attend college.

“I got a letter in the mail, and didn’t know if it was real or junk.”

After determining it was legitimate, Sykes decided to submit an application.  “I figured what the heck? I might as well try.”

Sykes was notified that he was a finalist in the middle of October.  He had until November 1 to complete the supplemental application materials for each of the colleges he selected. 

Sykes reflected on the craziness of this time. “I was balancing work, school, volunteering and QuestBridge. It was really busy, but I finally decided that even though matching was a long shot, I would give it an honest effort.”

On the day the winners’ names were released, Sykes waited until after school to see if he matched so that his mom would be done with work and home to check with him. “It was important to me to wait for my mom to check the list because she has been my main supporter through the entire process,” Sykes said.

“When I clicked on the website, and we saw my name matched to Holy Cross, my mom started jumping up and down and cheering. I stood up and looked around at everyone in the room, but I’m pretty sure I was in shock. I gave my mom a hug and had to rush off to work because I was already late. I’m still processing the news,” Sykes said.

Holy Cross is in Massachusetts. “It’s a traditionally Jesuit school, and I think that had something to do with why I was chosen, because I was definitely competing against a lot of well qualified people,” Sykes explained.

There was a time in Sykes life when he significantly helped a friend in need. Sykes wrote about the situation in his essay and believes his essay, in addition to his volunteer work, are what separated him from the rest of the applicants. “It’s called matching for a reason,” Sykes said. “I think the universities ask applicants to write so many supplemental essays in order to find the student who best fits the university’s mission.

One overarching theme Sykes expressed was his disbelief about the situation. I think it finally began to set in when I saw the six digit figure on the offer letter.  I’ve never seen money like that before. It was like lottery money”.

Sykes hopes to become an ambassador for this program. He’d like to help others apply for the same opportunity.  “If I could say one thing to other students, it would be to just try. You never know what might happen. That applies to everything in life. And even if you don’t win the scholarship, or get the job, or get the award, you are better off for having tried.  We grow by challenging ourselves.”

Sykes plans to study psychology next fall at Holy Cross. “Besides my mom, one of the most influential people in my life was my guidance counselor at Curtain, Mr. Edler. It’s because of him that I want to study psychology and perhaps become a counselor or therapist.”




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