With a 17 percent acceptance rate, getting into Notre Dame is near impossible without a lot of perseverance and hard work. Senior Aby Acevedo has utilized these qualities to not only get admitted to Notre Dame, but she has been awarded a full ride scholarship.
President Mary Higgins first met Acevedo while preparing for MarianFest in 2019. Acevedo was selected to speak about tuition assistance and how it helped her attend Marian. “I knew that she was friendly, and every time I saw her, she was smiling,” Higgins said. “I never saw her crabby, rude or in a bad mood. She is always incredibly pleasant.”
Acevedo’s inspiring speech at MarianFEST about her background is the reason behind much of her drive and motivation in school. Her parents left school at the ages of 10 and 13, and individually came to America from Mexico in hopes of pursuing a better life. They became citizens while in America. “Both knew that their dreams of getting an education had evaporated,” Acevedo said. However, they wanted their children to have what they weren’t able to. “The mindset they put into me, like if you do receive a good education that opens doors for a lot of opportunities,” Acevedo said. “They worked a lot of long hours to be able to pay for stuff, so seeing that in them encouraged me to work hard in school.”
Although Acevedo is an outstanding student now, she faced struggles in her early years of school. “I was the student who was always pulled out of class to receive remedial help,” Acevedo said. “When homework was too difficult or I did not understand the instructions, I could not rely on the help of my parents who could not speak English.” Acevedo did not let these challenges hold her back; she overcame them and decided to put in a great deal of effort and work to make herself and parents proud.
Acevedo’s journey to Notre Dame began when she applied to QuestBridge, a nonprofit program that helps top students from low income families pursue a higher education. “They had this cool program for juniors. It wasn’t for college yet, but it was to have admissions help,” Acevedo said. She was one of 3,000 selected for the program, out of about 13,000 applicants. “That gave me the confidence that maybe I did have a chance.”
For the next step of the QuestBridge process, Acevedo was selected from an even larger group of applicants. “Around 20,000 applied, then they pick about 8,000, and then only about 1,000 are actually admitted to [QuestBridge’s selection of colleges] with a full ride,” Acevedo said. “I knew my chances were low, so it wasn’t the only thing I was banking on.” She kept other colleges on her mind such as UNO and UNL while waiting for the decision.
Acevedo’s application obviously stood out on the desks of admission officers. For her essay, she wrote about overcoming the challenges of not being able to speak English when she began school and her parents not being able to help her with homework.
“I was in history class and it was my last block of the day,” Acevedo recalls when she logged into her QuestBridge portal and read the news. It read that only 90 students received a full scholarship to Notre Dame. “I was shocked, because I didn’t expect it, especially from Notre Dame.” What seemed to just be a normal day at school changed Acevedo’s future forever.
Acevedo’s success in school has not gone unnoticed by her classmates. “Aby’s accomplishment is super inspiring to me because she always works hard and diligently in everything she does,” senior Gracie Kerr said. “She puts her best foot forward every day to accomplish her goals, and now it’s paying off in an extremely big and exciting way.”
Acevedo plans to go down the pre-med track while at Notre Dame. “I know they have a kind of neuro major, and I want to do that because they said that’s the best pre-med major there,” Acevedo said. “I hope in the future some time to go to medical school.”
“I’m so proud of Aby for her perseverance and for pushing through to get where she is,” Higgins said. To follow up on her inspiring speech at MarianFEST in 2019, Acevedo will be speaking at the 2021 virtual MarianFEST. “I think people are going to stand up in their living rooms and cheer for her,” Higgins said.
Acevedo is proof that dreams can be attainable, and she advises others to believe in themselves. “After reading those numbers and thinking, oh, only 1,000 will get in, there was a moment when I thought I wouldn’t even apply,” Acevedo said. “It starts with belief because that gives you the confidence to work hard and write a really good essay.”