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SLHS student earns full-ride scholarship to Dartmouth

San Luis High School’s Omario Corral had long known what he was looking for when pursuing his post-secondary education. He had a major in mind, a career path, and had done the kind of copious research necessary to ensure whatever decision he made would be the best one for his future.

However, figuring out how to pay for his education was an entirely different matter. Omario Corral

Corral, a senior, heard about the QuestBridge National College Match program from his mentor, SLHS teacher Heather Madrigal, and it turned out to be life-altering.  

“I took this chance because of Heather Madrigal and her appraisal of my true character and potential,” Corral said. “Before, I was set on the military and going with what was secure for myself financially, as money was the biggest impediment to my advancement. I took this opportunity to secure myself a path to an elite education and contribute to something beyond me.”

That “something” led to a full-ride scholarship, worth upwards of $300,000, to Dartmouth College, one of the nation’s preeminent higher learning institutions. The Ivy League school will lift Corral from the deserts of San Luis, Arizona to the dense mountains of Hanover, New Hampshire.

The path to Dartmouth began long ago, but was sparked by Madrigal’s suggestion of accessing QuestBridge, which is set up to assist outstanding students from low-income families in matching with colleges they would not otherwise have an opportunity to speak to. Corral was an obvious candidate.   

“I received an email from QuestBridge at the end of August asking for the name of any student who would be a good fit for their College Match program,” Madrigal said. “I instantly thought of Omario and submitted his name. QuestBridge seeks students who have outstanding academic achievements and I knew that Omario had the skills, grades, and test scores to back up what I saw in class every day. Even more so, I believed that Omario would be able to impress them with his drive, strength, and determination to work towards his goals.”

And big goals, he has.

“I intend to major in Computer Science and Economics, and thereafter pursue a Master of Business Administration,” Corral said. “Dartmouth will assist me in this route because it entails all the benefits of an Ivy-League education: intense rigor of study, abundant resources, unparalleled opportunity, socioeconomic prestige, huge focus on undergraduate teaching (hence why it insists on being called a ‘college’), competitive advantage for careers and post-graduate education, and its renowned social network. More specifically, this institution excels in the liberal arts and secures its alumni with top-tier jobs in the fields of business, finance, and economics in places like Wall Street and Silicon Valley. This school is perfect for my desire in an interdisciplinary education and will allow me to pursue an MBA at other elite institutions all while propelling me into the fields of technology and business.”

To a certain extent, though, despite all of Corral’s careful considerations and attention to detail, there is still something of an overwhelming excitement about what may lay ahead a few months from now.

“I'm just stepping out of that stage of bewilderment and awe, and am transitioning to optimism for what is to come,” he said. “It’s a massive honor to be able to attend an Ivy-League university, and I am ready for the challenge and development it will pose to my identity. I am ready to capitalize on every opportunity and secure the best position I can for myself and those around me.”

Still, arriving at the opportunity included numerous challenges. Corral, one of five siblings, will be a first-generation college student. He watched the hard work his mother endured to provide for her family and has used it has both a humbling point of reference and source of motivation.

“Being mixed-race, I can easily say that Hispanic culture is accompanied by an unprecedented resilience,” Corral said. “It’s seen daily by our community that labors through the long hours of agricultural work to provide for their families and secure a better future for their children. I was raised by my Mexican-American mother who never graduated high school and I witness day in and day out within her that fortitude that encompasses every corner of our community.”

Another element of the community that influenced Corral’s present and future was his experience at San Luis High School.

“I feel as if San Luis High School instilled within me a philosophy I wouldn't have acquired anywhere else,” he said. “It taught me to not be confined nor defined by my predetermined situation; to not to be a product of circumstance but let circumstance be a product of myself.”

Eric Patten
epatten@yumaunion.org