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McHenry West scholarship recipient urges fellow students to stay positive in pursuit of financial help

As McHenry High School senior Ishta Nabakka makes her plans to attend Scripps College in California -- thanks to her full-ride scholarship -- she’s encouraging classmates and their families to stay positive when looking for financial help to continue their educational goals.

Ishta, the only McHenry High School student to receive a scholarship match through QuestBridge National Scholarship Program in the 2018-19 school year, said researching and applying for scholarships can be an arduous task. But it is worth the effort.

“You just have to persevere,” said Nabakka, a senior at West Campus who plans to study pre-med and psychology, and eventually wants to work with Doctors Without Borders.

“My recommendation is to talk to your counselors and talk to your teachers, because they know a lot. It helped alleviate a lot of stress because I had somebody to rely on.”

Ishta learned in December that she was matched with a full-ride scholarship to Scripps, which was at the top of her list of schools.

She is one of 1,044 seniors nationwide to be matched with scholarships through QuestBridge for the 2018-19 school year. That is a record number of scholars, QuestBridge officials said.

In the 2017-2018 school year, two students at East Campus were awarded scholarship matches through QuestBridge. Kennedy Kosmalski received a full-ride scholarship to Yale University and Alyssa Brown earned a full-ride scholarship to Amherst College.

QuestBridge is a national program that matches high-performing students -- who may not be able to afford college -- with top school scholarship programs. Ishta is thrilled to be part of it.

“It was a huge burden lifted off my shoulders,” she said.

She said she was introduced to QuestBridge by her counselor Curtis Menke, who also helped her through the submission process. Counselors also suggested she look at Posse, an organization that matches students to leadership scholarship opportunities, in addition to other scholarship sources.