Banning students to be awarded full college tuition

by David James Heiss, Record Gazette - December 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM -
BrideQuest scholars

Photo for the Record Gazette by David James Heiss — BrideQuest scholars (from left) Emeizni Mandagi, Hernan Lopez and Emeizmi Mandagi.

Three of Banning High School’s seniors are recipients this year of full tuition QuestBridge scholarships, entitling them to attend partnering prestigious universities at no cost.

Sisters Emeizni and Emeizmi Mandagi, and Hernan Lopez were informed last month by the organization, and gave them a chance to “rank” up to 10 college choices from the likes of Brown University, Caltech, MIT, Princeton, University of Notre Dame, and Yale University, among others.

The colleges then go through the process of matching students to perspective colleges.

QuestBridge bridges “the nation’s highest, under-served youth and leading institutions of higher education” for students “who have excelled despite obstacles.”

QuestBridge students are low-income students who score a combined score of at least 1220 on the SAT.

The scholarships entitle college applicants to four years of free tuition, full room and board, fees to cover books and travel expenses, while ensuring no contributions will be made by parents, and no student loans will be accrued.

Hernan Lopez, captain of his school’s JPL Invent A Challenge team and the Solar Boat competition captain, expressed interest in University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study engineering.

Lopez is a member of the National Honor Society, and plays trumpet in Banning High School’s marching band.

“Coming from a low-income family and a low-resource school, I never dreamed that it could be possible to go to a school like USC,” he said. “I never thought they’d even consider me. Being a QuestBridge scholar will help me compete when I apply for jobs. This takes away a lot of worry I would’ve had as a student, and will enable me to focus on my studies.”

Emeizni Mandagi, a drum major for the marching band, and a member of the high school’s Key Club and National Honor Society, also participates in the Solar Boat competition.

She has listed USC as her first choice, followed by Carlton College and Vanderbilt University to study English.

“QuestBridge lets me have the opportunity to attend a prestigious college for free — something I never imagined possible,” she said. “I get to experience college in a faraway place, and be in the northeast where I’ve always wanted to go.”

Emeizmi Mandagi, president of the school’s Interact Club and a runner on the cross country and track teams, hopes to study nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, and plays saxophone in the concert band.

“I’ve always dreamed of attending a prestigious school, but that was always diminished by cost,” she said. “With this scholarship, I plan to use my experience to change a lot of people’s lives.”

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at

Source: Record Gazette