This summer, Irving High seniors Arianna Saravia and Miriam Hernandez each earned the opportunity to experience college life at two of the most prestigious universities in the country – Yale and the University of Chicago – through selective programs designed for high-achieving scholars.
Read their respective stories below:
Arianna Saravia earned a spot in the Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program this summer. This educational enrichment program is designed for academically motivated high school students from across the globe, including over 150 countries, and takes place at Yale’s historic campus in New Haven, Conn. Saravia’s mother found out about YYGS through Yale’s website and felt it would be a great opportunity for her daughter.
“My mom encouraged me to take a chance and apply for the program. Even if I wasn’t accepted, she felt it’d be a good opportunity for me to get accustomed to filling out an application since I have to apply to colleges as well,” says Saravia.
When crafting her essay for the application, Saravia wanted to showcase her artistic side and love of dance and music. She’s currently a member of the Toy Tigers Dance Team, where she’s held a variety of leadership positions, and she credits that experience for teaching her about sisterhood and discipline. Saravia also has seven years of experience as a member of the orchestra. Due to a compelling essay, she was officially accepted into the program last December, however, Saravia was unsure if she’d be able to attend the summer program due to the cost. Luckily, she applied for and was granted a financial aid package solidifying her spot in the YYGS program.
This past July, Saravia boarded a plane with her mother and headed to New Haven for two weeks in a global learning environment. During her time with YYGS, she says she learned a lot, but the most important lesson was to always remain positive and motivated.
“Even during times when you don’t feel good enough, it’s so important to keep a positive attitude and be motivated. Being at Yale allowed me to be around a diverse group of people from across the world, and even though it was a culture shock, I still felt like I could be myself and I felt supported,” added Saravia. “A lot of kids don’t get this opportunity, so I definitely wanted to take advantage of it and absorb as much as I could.”
Saravia, along with other students from her cohort, are now official Yale alums and members of their alumni network, which allows them to stay connected. As she starts her senior year, she plans to begin the application process for QuestBridge in hopes of earning a scholarship. Saravia plans to pursue a degree in humanities and/or biomedical sciences at the University of Texas at Austin or an Ivy League school.
Thousands of students from across the country apply each year for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) with only 7% earning acceptance. Miriam Hernandez was recently included in that percentage. Hernandez initially found out about the opportunity through Tik Tok and consulted with Irving High counselor Rosalinda Estrada to learn more information. Through YLI, high-achieving Latino high school juniors are able to enhance their leadership abilities and expand their professional networks at one of two top universities: the University of Southern California or the University of Chicago. Hernandez chose the University of Chicago.
Her experience was one that included various “firsts”. Not only was this her first time flying on a plane, but it was also her first time traveling outside of the state of Texas. On her journey to Chicago, she met another YLI scholar from Dallas at the airport, and they were able to bond over their upcoming experience.
“It was exciting to connect with students from different backgrounds,” says Hernandez. “It was special experiencing this together.”
While at the University of Chicago, Hernandez says students were able to experience life on a college campus, including having a rigorous schedule. Scholars were set up for college, career and life success through various learning experiences such as table etiquette, building a network using online platforms such as LinkedIn, building credit and navigating student loans.
“The importance of building a network was my biggest takeaway from this experience. It’s never too early to start working on that. Before this program, I didn’t have a LinkedIn page, but now I do,” she adds.
One life lesson Hernandez hopes to implement this year is building credit and becoming more informed on the topic. She also says she wants to be knowledgeable about student loans and prioritizing mental health, all topics she credits YLI for introducing to her.
After graduating high school next May, Hernandez hopes to attend the University of Texas at Austin. While she’s currently undecided about her major, she’s leaning towards business with hopes of earning her certification in User Experience (UX) Design.