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Nia Legba Earns Full Academic Scholarship to Vanderbilt University

Nia Legba Earns Full Academic Scholarship to Vanderbilt University

Congratulations to Nia Legba, a Richfield High School senior, for earning a full academic scholarship to Vanderbilt University through the highly competitive QuestBridge National Match Scholars Program. The QuestBridge National Match Scholars Program gives academically excellent, low-income students the chance to obtain a full-ride scholarship to a top school in America. 

After acceptance into the program, prospective scholars rank up to 12 top schools of their choice. Each ranked school reviews the applications and determines whether the scholar is a match. In order to be considered as a match, Nia had to maintain near-perfect grades and an above average GPA, as well as show that she has been involved in the community through volunteering and extracurricular activities. Nia learned about this opportunity from her sister, who attends Carleton College and encouraged her to apply.

Nia was sitting with two of her friends in one of the new flex spaces at RHS, when she received the notification email. “I was nervous and my hands were shaking,” said Nia. “They told me to open the email, and I hesitated, and then I opened it and shut my eyes. A second later I heard a scream and saw the phrase, ‘Congratulations, You Matched’ on the screen.” Nia and her friends proceeded to jog around the school telling as many teachers, family members, friends and RHS staff as they could find! 

At Vanderbilt, Nia plans to major in biology on the pre-med track. She credits her passion for biology to a class she took her freshman year at RHS, where she enjoyed studying human genes, cells and organisms in their various ecosystems. “My dream job is to become a pathologist or medical scientist,” said Nia. “I imagine myself conducting research on a disease that is affecting my hometown, Togo, and striving to develop a cure for it. I want to utilize my skills to assist underdeveloped countries because they have a higher need for specialists in the medical field. I want to be one of those scientists in their respected labs researching day and night for a cure or vaccine, in order to better the life of even just one individual.”

Nia’s counselor, Sara Linde, describes her as a determined, perseverant and ambitious young woman. “When talking with her, one can easily see the sense of pride she has in her accomplishments, but even more noticeable is a passion for learning that she overwhelmingly exudes,” she wrote. “Nia is a student with remarkable grit who simply loves to learn.”

Nia credits much of her success to the teachers and staff at RHS, as well as her peers and family. “There were days where I thought I might give up because I had so much on my plate, but my support network was there to guide me through those tough times and remind me of my talents and what I was doing this for.” said Nia. “I have so many wonderful teachers and staff to thank for getting me here.” 

Teachers and staff have noticed Nia’s hard work, as well. Her French teacher, Morgan Steele, describes Nia as an incredibly positive person who brings smiles, energy and laughter to the classroom community. Assistant Principal Carrie Vala is thrilled for Nia and proud of her accomplishments as well: “Nia is a REMARKABLE human and scholar, and is destined for greatness as she takes this next step in her education journey.”

In her spare time, Nia enjoys playing basketball, watching anime, swimming and spending time with her siblings. Her favorite course this year is ceramics, where she enjoys the creativity and freedom of throwing pots on the wheel. “I make many mistakes while making pots, but I learn from them and I am able to better execute my ideas with practice.”

Nia’s advice to freshmen? “Develop support networks of trusted teachers and staff members because high school isn't always smooth sailing. My journey here took a lot of sleepless nights and many essays that my favorite teachers stayed up editing for me. The only reason I am where I am today is because of the multiple support networks I have established for myself.”

About Nia

Nia’s counselor, Sara Linde, describes Nia as a calm, well-respected leader who many in her class call a friend. Not only has she earned A and A+ grades in every high school class, the vast majority of these have been in honors and college-level courses. Outside of the classroom, Nia is a member of the Student Government cabinet, a Safe and Supportive Schools Committee representative, and a Food Shelf Advisory Board member. 

As a senior, Nia chose to experience the life of a college student when she decided to enroll full-time at nearby Normandale Community College through Minnesota’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program. She is currently thriving in her college courses while maintaining an active high school schedule filled with Upward Bound, Me to We, Green Team and Student Wellness Council meetings.

About the QuestBridge National College Match Program 

From the QuestBridge press release and website: 

Match Scholarship Recipients are granted early admission to one of QuestBridge's college partners with a full four-year scholarship, worth over $200,000. The college partners use a combination of their own funds as well as state and federal aid to fund the scholarship.

Out of over 16,500 applicants, QuestBridge selected 6,312 Finalists to be considered for the QuestBridge National College Match Scholarship (Match Scholarship). This year, QuestBridge’s 45 college partners matched with 1,674 Finalists, who are recognized as Match Scholarship Recipients.

To date, over 30,000 Finalists have been admitted to a college partner through QuestBridge, including over 10,500 who were admitted with full four-year scholarships. Finalists who attend our college partners are supported in their college years and beyond through on-campus chapters and nationwide opportunities offered through the QuestBridge Scholars Network and QuestBridge Alumni Association.

Read full press release 

QuestBridge website

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“Angel has been my T.A. in a French 1 class all year and he is so helpful and makes the class of mostly freshmen feel welcomed,” says Madame Steele. “He helps answer questions and encourages their work while being a role model with his leadership skills and grades. Since he was in ninth grade, Angel has been vital in creating community in our classroom and bringing laughter to every class."

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“Madalyn is a gem of a human,” says RHS teacher and cheer coach Laurie Seibert. “She is caring, compassionate, detail-oriented and focused on helping others be the best they can be. I loved having her as a cheer captain her senior year, and I loved having her as my student aide every day of spring semester. She has a light that shines very bright.”

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“But it's not just Aaron’s talent that shines," said media specialist Melissa Glavas. "He's been so generous with his time in the studio. He's helped many students get started with the equipment and acted as a producer for others. I'm grateful for Aaron’s kindness in helping to make our new recording studio accessible to so many of his peers.”

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“I've had the pleasure of knowing Morgan since ninth grade,” says math teacher Laurie Seibert. “She is an absolutely incredible human: smart, kind, driven and has a beautiful soul. She is a dedicated and thoughtful person, who I was lucky enough to have in my presence each day of her senior year, when she was my student aide. I am very grateful to have maintained a connection with her through all four years of her high school experience! She brings me such joy.”

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