GARLAND, TX - Joshua Lopez has achieved a feat no other ILTexas student has: a full-ride scholarship to the University of Virginia through the Jefferson Scholars Program. Lopez, a senior at ILTexas Garland High School,  is one of two recipients from the Dallas area to receive the esteemed scholarship which covers housing, tuition, books, fees, personal expenses, and travel for study abroad opportunities. 

Lopez described the application process as “pretty intense” with two essay submissions, interview rounds at the local and national level, academic and extracurricular review, and submitting letters of recommendation. Only students that are nominated by their schools are eligible to apply for the scholarship. In order to qualify, nominated applicants must be a high school senior who demonstrates “excellence and exceptional potential in the areas of leadership, scholarship, and citizenship,” according to the foundation’s website

After months of waiting, Lopez finally received the good news. 

“It was right after school ended,” he said. “I got an email from the Jefferson Foundation and they're like, check your email, the scholarship results are out . . . and then I opened it and saw ‘congratulations’ and I just screamed. I was so happy.”

His only problem now? Having many options to choose from. Lopez applied to 33 colleges and has received acceptances from all that have posted their admission status thus far. Aside from the University of Virginia, his notable acceptances include Wake Forest University, the University of Southern California, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the latter of which he received another full ride scholarship. 

Lopez stated he has not committed to any university just yet, and is still waiting to hear back from others, including a few Ivy League colleges who will send their admission notifications in late March. Regardless of the outcome, Lopez is grateful money will not be an issue for his college education.

“It's just still crazy to me how I'm able to go to college and not have to worry about finances at all,” he said. “I can get to focus on the social aspect of college and also on the academic aspect and not have to worry about debt.”  

The college application process was not easy for Lopez, who at one point was writing an essay a day to complete his submissions. He credits his ILTexas Academic Success Program (ASP) advisor, Sara Morgan, for helping him navigate the application process. 

“She was really effective and I couldn't be here without her because not only did she write my letter of recommendation, she helped edit my essays to make sure that I knew what I was talking about, and that it reflected who I was as a person,” he said. 

Although he has not decided on a college to attend, Lopez is committed to a major. He plans to study biochemistry and music with the goal of becoming a research scientist or cell biologist.

As a student with ILTexas since the sixth grade, he credits the charter for helping him stand out during the college application process. 

“I think ILTexas has done a really great job in helping me differentiate myself from other candidates for admission or for scholarships because one of the main things is you get to learn Spanish and Chinese,” he said. “I know conversational Chinese, for example, and that usually impresses people.” 

When asked what advice he would give to other students preparing for, or currently applying to colleges, Lopez said to not give up and emphasized the importance of being themselves. 

“Just be genuine and be yourself, and introspect to see what you really care about, your values, and then you want to convey that in your essays and your general application,” he said.

“Overall, it’s who you are.”

As university acceptances begin to come in, ILTexas will proudly share more stories of our 2022 graduates and the exceptional higher education opportunities that they have earned. Explore to learn more about how your student can have these same opportunities.