Heard County High School senior earns full scholarship to Princeton

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Getting an acceptance letter from your dream college can feel like a dream come true. Heard County High School senior Simone Acosta said earning a full ride scholarship to Princeton University is an accomplishment she’ll always cherish.

Acosta earned the Questbridge National Scholarship, which will provide funds to cover the full cost of tuition, room, board, travel, study abroad programs, supplies and textbooks.

“The decisions came out around 3 p.m., but I wasn’t able to open it until around 7. I had four hours to wait, and I was extremely anxious,” Acosta said.

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Acosta said on the way home that day, she kept saying to herself, “This doesn’t mean everything’s over. If you don’t get in, you’re fine.” When Acosta got home, she checked her application to find she matched with Princeton.

“I was freaking out,” Acosta said. “Princeton was my number one school, and I was elated.”

Acosta said she wants to major in political science and become an attorney that specializes in wrongful convictions for non-profits like the Innocence Project.

Looking ahead to graduating high school, Acosta said will be the valedictorian and feels ready to take the next steps to college.   

“I’m definitely going to probably spend these last six months in school trying to enjoy the time that I have left with my friends here and prepare for a whole new world up in New Jersey,” Acosta said.

Acosta said she is the first to go to an Ivy League school from Heard County in over 20 years.

“We had a kid get into MIT in 2008, but we haven’t had one go to the Ivy League since 2004,” she said. “It was a shock for my whole school system and county in general.”

Acosta said she knew she wanted to apply to prestigious universities but felt like the chances were slim.

“I wanted to push myself to the limit and see if I could,” Acosta said. “For a while, I didn’t exactly have one school in particular but Princeton quickly became my number one when I realized just how much financial aid they gave, especially to low-income students.”

Along with Princeton, Acosta also applied to Yale, Columbia, Brown, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke and the University of Chicago.