For the eighth time, the prestigious Gates Scholarship has been awarded to a Nogales High School senior in the Rowland Unified School District. Thomas Aguilar is one of only 750 scholars who were chosen from a pool of 51,000 high school seniors from across the nation for the highly selective scholarship that provides college funding to the university of their choice. In addition, Aguilar was named a national QuestBridge College Match recipient, earning a full four-year scholarship that covers the entire cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses to one of the nation’s best colleges. It is very rare for one student to be awarded both of these top scholarships that when combined, means academic support, professional internships and all college expenses are covered with no student loans. Aguilar will be attending Pomona College, a top private liberal arts college in Claremont, California.
“I am so excited and grateful to join such a presigious community of driven scholars and hope to inspire my fellow Nobles to work just as hard to make their dreams a reality,” said Aguilar.
During his freshman year, Aguilar was selected as a Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS) Scholar and has spent the last three summers attending this residential college experience. “For my PAYS senior capstone research project, I chose the topic of Exploring Indigenous Spirituality. I wanted to take the opportunity to explore my own heritage. One of the biggest things that surprised me was the connections that Filipino spirtuality had with indigenous Aztec spirituality and it was very interesting.”
Aguilar said he always pushed himself to excel academically, but it wasn’t until high school that he was able to really explore his passion for the arts. “As a first gen, low-income Filipino American, there is a cultural pressure I faced growing up,” said Aguilar. “Imagine a whole family in the medical field and then me, the one art kid! The arts are not seen as a traditional, successful career and it was difficult to navigate being a kid searching for guidance and not being able to have that affirmation of my own dreams.” He established himself as a formidable artist and actor, earning the lead in last spring’s production of “Blyth Spirit” while actively involved in the Nogales High School Drama Company, Art Club, along with Key Club, and publicist for the College Connect Club.
(Photo below of Thomas Aguilar at the Nogales High School Art Club Show).