Heading east: Moses Lake student receives full ride to Vassar College
Samuel Rebuelta, a senior at Moses Lake High School, stands in the school’s library.
Cheryl Schweizer/Columbia Basin Herald
Moses Lake High School senior Samuel Rebuelta, left, works with fellow MLHS student Angel Miguel on Wednesday.
Moses Lake High School senior Samuel Rebuelta holds a sign announcing he “matched with Vassar.”
Staff Writer | January 10, 2022 1:00 AM
MOSES LAKE — For Moses Lake High School senior Samuel Rebuelta, it started with a postcard.
“I got this thing in the mail,” he said.
It was an invitation to apply for a scholarship from an organization called QuestBridge. Questbridge helps kids from low-income families apply to colleges they might not know about otherwise, and pays most or all of the cost once they’re accepted.
Rebuelta will attend Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, beginning in the fall, with a full ride scholarship. He said QuestBridge officials estimated the scholarship, which includes tuition and room and board, will be worth about $300,000 if he attends all four years.
“I’m very grateful. Very grateful,” he said.
He will be the first in his family to go to college.
“I know I’m going to do pre-med, but I’m still undecided on the major,” he said.
He chose Vassar in part because it’s a small college, about 2,500 students, which means small class sizes. Vassar also allows its students to explore different disciplines.
“The main thing was the open curriculum,” he said. “Also the campus is beautiful.”
He’s still undecided about a career and a course of study, but he’s leaning toward something that has interested him since his first eye exam in seventh grade.
‘The eye looks cool,” he said.
He’s considered a career in optometry and did some job shadowing at an optometrist’s office. But ophthalmology, which is a medical specialty that cares for all eye diseases and problems up to and including surgery, looks even more interesting, he said.
He spent most of his winter vacation watching videos on ophthalmological careers, as well as videos on eye surgery and treatment of eye disease.
Rebuelta is a numbers guy.
“Math and science, I really like that stuff,” he said. “I like numbers and stuff. And solving problems with numbers is really cool.”
He considered a career in engineering, but it’s just not as interesting, he said.
So while ophthalmology looks exciting right now, he’s not making any decisions yet. That career requires an undergraduate degree, medical school, residency and one to two years of additional training. It’s a challenge, and kind of a scary challenge, he said.
So he’s open to another option if ophthalmology doesn’t work. Vassar attracted him in part because it gives students a chance to change their minds, if they decide their original choice is not the right one after all.
Poughkeepsie, New York, is a long way from home for a high school senior.
“I’ve lived in Moses Lake all my life,” he said.
He was accepted to Whitworth University, in Spokane, as well, and Whitworth’s acceptance letter came first, he said. His mom was happy for him, but she thought Whitworth was pretty far away. Then the acceptance letter arrived from Vassar.
“At first she thought I was joking,” he said.
And she’s both proud of him and happy for him, he said.
A new and challenging academic environment, a town all the way across the country – it’s a lot, and Rebuelta said it’s both exciting and scary.
“I’m mostly excited. Mostly,” he said.
Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at email@example.com.