East Brunswick art student wins prestigious national scholarship

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EAST BRUNSWICK – Kimani Isaac learned about the QuestBridge scholarship program, by chance, just two days before the deadline.

“I sent that application in (online) 23 seconds before it closed,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

But Kimani, a 17-year-old senior in the School of the Arts on the East Brunswick Campus of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, was awarded one of the prestigious scholarships, which aim to match talented low-income students with some of the nation’s elite colleges. The scholarship pays all expenses for four years.

Kimani, an only child who lives with her mother, Judi Isaac, in North Brunswick, will attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, which is located just outside Chicago.

“It’s four years of everything paid at one of the best theater schools in the nation,” said her teacher Maria Aladren, head of the MCVTS theater program. “This is a big deal.”

As far as Aladren is concerned, the scholarship went to the right student.

“She is spectacular,” she said. “She’s a dream student.

“I’ve never had anybody starting so far back in the pack, with so few resources, pass everybody,” Aladren added. “And be such a nice person, and an activist. She’s the full package.”

“I’m extraordinarily lucky,” Kimani said.

Kimani plans to major in theater in Northwestern’s School of Communication, but she also hopes to minor in African-American studies and take some courses on gender issues and “a dance class or two.” She wants to act while in college but eventually become a director.

“I’m really interested in being where I can do the most good,” she said.

Kimani got a taste of campus life at Northwestern over the summer, attending a five-week national high school institute for arts students called “The Cherubs.”

“It was very cool,” she said.

The QuestBridge National College Match program received more than 13,000 applications and awarded 657 scholarships to students from 44 states based on academic achievement and financial need. The 36 partner colleges fund the scholarships.