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Once a Blue Marauder, Now a Blue Devil

Senior Eva Yi’s College Application Process of Getting into Duke with a Full-Ride Scholarship


Photo courtesy of Eva Yi


Getting into a dream college is one of the greatest achievements in a person’s life. But with a scholarship, that is even more to celebrate. Among many successful students of Maclay’s class of 2024, senior Eva Yi recently got accepted to her dream school, Duke University, with a full-ride scholarship. There, she will study neuroscience and foreign languages.


Yi’s academic interests originate way back from middle school, where she took her first biology class. Yi continued exploring natural sciences in high school, and the Brain and Behavior class helped her solidify her passion specifically in neuroscience. Outside of school, she engaged in multiple activities related to science and healthcare, including working at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, attending the FSU College of Medicine Summer Institute, interning at a pathology lab, conducting research ​with live animals and leading the Science Olympiad club at Maclay. Adding variety into her extracurriculars, she also participated in Quincy tutoring and volunteered as a teacher assistant at Maclay’s academic camps.


“She [Eva] is really resilient and does not have to be perfect or present herself as perfect, and I really like that,” upper school biology teacher Ariel Evans said. “When she was in my class, not everything that she did every single time was absolutely the best, but when it wasn’t, she just worked harder.”


Grades and test scores are undeniably important factors in the college application process. However, essays are what show the student’s personality. Yi put the most effort into this space to capture who she is as a person, not a student defined by numerical values. Though tedious and time-consuming, this process helped her discover more about herself. She then asked a few mentors to read the essays to ensure her story flows well in other perspectives. Yi believes her essays, rather than grades or test scores, were the most significant part of her application.


“In my personal essays especially, I dug a little deep into my identity,” Yi said. “I remember talking about the culture fair when we represented South Korea, and I used that story to talk about my dual identity like my Korean and American background.”


Unlike most students, Yi began her application in her junior year. When her family found out about QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that connects first-generation and low-income students to partner colleges, she applied to the College Prep Scholars Program, a junior version of college match. Once accepted, she advanced to the senior application for the final National College Match. She ranked Duke on the top of her list and was eventually matched with the university.


“QuestBridge definitely helps financially in that since it’s a four-year full-ride guarantee, it’s a huge relief,” Yi said. “Everything [including] tuition, rooming board, food, textbooks, transportations within Duke, study abroad programs, all of it’s covered through the QuestBridge scholarship.”


 Just like any other student, Yi experienced difficult moments during the application process. She often faced a recurring thought that she is not enough and felt guilty of comparing herself to other accomplished students. Nevertheless, thinking about her dream of becoming a doctor rather than the mere achievements or name of college kept her motivated to follow her own path and work harder.


“I was more focused on the future beyond college, so I think just thinking about the future just outweighed any down moments,” Yi said.


At Duke, Yi is looking forward to getting out-of-state experiences, meeting a diverse student body, being involved in clubs and having more opportunities at hospitals. After building her career, Yi plans to go to a medical school and pursue surgery.


“[I’m most excited about] meeting new people since I’ve gone to Maclay for my entire life since Pre-K 3,” Yi said. “I think this huge transition from Tallahassee to Durham will definitely be a big one. Just more of everything is what I’m excited for.”


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