Yesenia Silva

Porterville High School senior Yesenia Silva became the first Questbridge Scholar in Porterville High School history earlier this month. She earned a full-ride scholarship valued at $200,000 to attend Rice University, where she will study Biology. She also plans to attend medical school and become a gynecologist.

Will attend Rice University next fall on full-ride academic scholarship

Yesenia Ramos Silva is a exemplary Porterville student who comes from a humble background, and she is on the path to success.  

On Dec. 3 at 12:45 p.m., Silva became the first ever Porterville High School Questbridge National Scholarship recipient, and she will be attending Rice University in Houston, Texas on a full-ride worth over $200,000.

“Until today, it still hadn’t hit me,” said Silva. “It feels like it’s too great to be true. I now have a full-ride to Rice University. I am a little terrified of that, but that’s where God wants me.” 

Silva, will be majoring in Biology and hopes to continue on to medical school to study obstetrics and gynecology. Yesenia’s future plans are to have her own clinic so she is also considering a second major in Business Administration.

Yesenia was born in Puruandiro, Michoacan, Mexico, to Maria Silva de Ramos and Silvestre Ramos Torres, who immigrated with their family to the USA on Jan. 1, 2018. Yesenia has four siblings and she is the oldest in her family. Yesenia’s family, like many other families, immigrated from Mexico to the United States seeking better opportunities. Both of her parents are agricultural field workers who work daily to put food on their table.

“Both of my parents could not get an education, so that really influenced me, because they didn’t have the means to get an education. Now I am taking full advantage of what I have,” said Silva. “They come from a humble background of hard-working people.”

Silva said if she had grown up in Mexico, by this time she would probably be looking forward to marriage. 

“There is that stigma for girls that they are not going to succeed without a significant other. I would not have had the money to pay for college.”

Silva said as she was growing up she had no idea of what college was, and didn’t know she had a chance to attend college. 

“In elementary I didn’t know anything about college, I did not know what college was,” said Silva. “Nobody in my family has gone to college, and when I first got asked if wanted to go to college my response was, ‘Oh here to Porterville College?’ I didn’t know what to say.” 

After that, Yesenia said it got her thinking about college, and how going to college was a real option for her. 

Silva received an email from Questbridge last year which talked about their mentorship program, internships and opportunities. 

“I looked at it and at first I was like, ‘It’s too good to be true,’” said Ramos, but added that she decided to apply to Questbridge and give it a try. “I became a Questbridge college prep scholar. One of the opportunities I had with Questbridge besides the community and contacts was being able to apply to the national college scholarship.” 

The Questbridge National College Scholarship is a full-ride academic scholarship. There are about 40 schools that are partnered with Questbridge that are looking for low-income students in whom they see potential for being successful at their campuses. 

Silva said almost 1,700 people applied for the scholarship, and from there about 6,000 students are selected as finalists. 

“It was pretty competitive. Besides competing with Questbridge scholars, I was also competing with Early Decision students,” said Silva. “After that there are other processes you must complete, like personal essays, financial and personal information. This time I had to apply to the colleges and send ACT and SAT scores. It was a long process.” 

Yesenia applied to five colleges which are Stanford University, Yale University, University of Pennsylvania, Rice University and Duke University. Silva said she was looking for five things into colleges which have a small student to teacher ratio, research opportunities, internship opportunities, a good biology program with a good environment to grow.   

“I am catholic so I said, ‘God, you send me where you need me and maybe if it’s not through Questbridge, you have a different path for me,’ Even if I didn’t get selected for any well God has something different for me,” said Yesenia.

PHS senior holds a 4.4 GPA, and along with that she is involved in many clubs, she has a job and is committed to aiding the community. 

Silva has a tutoring job after school, she is the president of the Porterville Red Cross where she works for the community and helps the needed.  

Yesenia has attended academic seminars, and she was nominated to represent Central California at the World Leadership conference, where she traveled to Chicago and got to meet people from all over the world. She was also president of the Spanish Club, and is involved with her Catholic community as a catechism teacher. 

Yesenia was also chosen to attend the Girls State Leadership representing Porterville High School. 

Silva also received a scholarship for a research program at UC Irvine, where she learned about surgical procedures. 

“My favorite was craniology and seeing a tumor being removed,” she added. “I love surgeries. That’s why I’m going into obstetrics, because I can treat the mother and deliver babies, and there are other surgical procedures that I can do.” 

Silva said she has completed over 320 hours of internships with Family Healthcare Network, Living Water Clinic, Sequoia Clinic and Sierra View Medical Center, and she is also part of the Partnership Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS) Pathway at Porterville High School.

“If money doesn’t become an obstacle in the future, I do want to come back to Porterville. I definitely want to come back to Terra Bella, especially because I want to help my community and give back for everything that they given me, like humility, morals, and teaching me what hard work is and giving me an education and giving me a support group,” said Silva.

Aside from establishing her own clinic, Silva hopes to start her own non-profit organization to help people like her parents attain a GED and help them learn English.

“My parents definitely have been my biggest influence. They didn’t have an education, and now everything that I have is because of them,” said Silva. “They moved here for me and my sisters to have a better life, a better education. They did their part, and now its is my turn to do my part.”

She hopes to set an example for her younger siblings and younger generations who come from a similar background like hers.

“I want to let them know that hard work will get you wherever you want, and networking is very important,” she added. “But most importantly, we should all be grateful and never forget our roots.” 

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