The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School


Questbridge Scholar Victoria Largaespada Matches With UPenn

College-bound Cavalier turned Quaker, this senior secures a full ride to UPenn demonstrating her desire for higher education
Gianna Figueroa
Future social worker and neighborhood advocate, Victoria Largaespada has committed to the University of Pennsylvania to pursue her dream career.

As the seniors’ time at Coral Gables Senior High approaches halfway into their year, the moment has come for the class to experience the rite of passage known as college applications. Working relentlessly on lessening the cost of college tuition, scholarships come to the rescue. Having the power to reduce costs slightly or entirely, for senior Victoria Largaespada, Questbridge has granted her the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school fully paid: the University of Pennsylvania.

On a scavenger hunt for information during her junior year, Largespada learned about Questbridge through the prep-scholar meeting in the College Admissions Process room that Ms. Sanz was holding.

With prep-scholar applications opening in July 2023, Largaespada decided to apply around August. During this month, she was considering her options and debating whether or not she should apply. Despite her consideration of closing herself off to other options, the encouragement from her friends made Largaespada leap at the chance. Although she was not accepted as a prep scholar, her willpower to study out-of-state free of charge intensified.

“I was nervous and excited, because I knew the opportunity I could get if I got matched, but I was super nervous, because sometimes you feel it can’t be possible, and you don’t feel very competitive compared to the other people you are competing for the scholarship. My friends were very supportive of me and telling me I could do it, and I deserved it, and although I did not qualify as a prep-scholar, in the end, I got it so I was very proud of myself,” senior Largaespada said.

Maintaining high hopes as she worked on her Questbridge application during her senior year, Largaespada asked Ms. Kiely and Ms. Albury to write her letters of recommendation. Getting comfortable at her desk, Ms. Kiely began typing on her computer keyboard, preparing for round two of writing Largaespada’s letter just as she did for her prep-scholar application. Writing her Extended Essay on child labor during junior year, Largaespada went to her EE supervisor Ms. Albury for guidance. Having fostered close relationships with these two, she believed they knew exactly how to describe her.

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Saving Largaespada a great deal of time, applying to the prep-scholar program automatically transferred over her work from last year. With extra time on her hands, she dedicated herself to improving her writing portions from last year and making sure they met word requirements. Through constant and well-thought-out revisions, Largaespada turned in her application on the final deadline of Sept. 26.

Later on submitting activities, grades, records and transcripts, her portfolio would determine whether she would become a semi-finalist. Finding out the results on Oct. 10, she advanced as a semi-finalist and ranked the following three schools: University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. Envisioning the perfect balance between an immense and compact college, these three matched her vision of a perfect fit.

Having family connections around these colleges gave Largaespada the confidence to explore a different environment surrounded by a circle of trustworthy members. After categorizing her top colleges, she applied to them individually. Focusing her attention on her Ivy League supplements, she completed them by Oct. 30, while completing her USC supplements on Nov. 1. As the nervousness crept up a month later, she was overjoyed to discover she was a finalist in her match with UPenn.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for her. I knew she could do it because she is such an excellent student as well as being a great person. I had talked to her about my experience visiting UPenn and I was so proud when she got in,” senior Anabella Rodriguez said.

As a child, Largaespada vividly remembers her single mom having to work hard in the early hours of her childhood. Leaving her brother to take care of her while her mom was working as a waitress to provide for the family. Growing up, this lifestyle has motivated her to work harder towards a better future through her accomplishments in education. Being the first in her family to study out-of-state, Largaespada’s mom was nervous and wanted her close, being the youngest of her siblings.

“At first, my mom was very sad, ’cause I was going out of state and everything, but then after she processed it, she was happy for me and was like, ‘Oh now we have to go to Pennsylvania.’ She felt sad, because she was gonna miss me, but she is happy for me that I’m furthering my education, because that is what she really wants me to do,” senior Largaespada said.

For the 2024 fall semester, Largaespada plans to major in sociology and psychology to pursue a career in social work. Possibly minoring in business and finance since UPenn is known for its business program, she plans to take advantage of all opportunities within her grasp. Serving as a step in the right direction for Largespada, UPenn helps answer the question of finding a community more about herself and a place in the world.

“My end goal is to be a social worker which is something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while cause I love early child education and children so I want to advocate for their rights and help them if they are abused or in horrible homes, and I want to get them out of those homes. I can help achieve that by getting my degree in psychology and sociology, so I can get to understand it more and hopefully get a masters in social work,” senior Largaespada said.

Working hard for four years, Largaespada will close off her chapter at Coral Gables Senior High on a high, successful note. Taking her determination and bravery to Philadelphia, Pa., her new journey will begin at Upenn in the upcoming semester in search for her dream career.

About the Contributor
Gianna Figueroa, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Gianna Figueroa is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Gables and this is her first year writing for CavsConnect. Looking for more ways to be involved at Gables, she saw CavsConnect as the perfect opportunity to do so, an opportunity to improve her writing skills. Hoping to meet new faces, engage herself in additional extracurriculars, attend more school events and create memories that will last a lifetime, she is looking forward to working for CavsConnect with the rest of the team. All of this while staying on top of her school work and managing her four Advanced Placement classes. She has a deep passion for art from a young age. Drawing, sketching and painting have been her creative outlet and have helped her all her life.  She aspires to pursue something in the arts and to have a job that will make her truly happy. In her free time, you can find her drawing, reading or spending time with her loved ones.
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