Catholic School Student Spotlight

Local student earns full ride scholarship to Princeton: a guest post from Gross Catholic High School

upclose image of girl outside in stocking hat smiling

Gross Catholic senior Gaby Gandara recalled sitting in front of her computer with her mom while she waited to receive news that would have a tremendous impact on her future.

Early in high school, Gaby didn’t think her family would ever be able to afford college and doubted herself academically. After her freshman year, Gaby transferred to Gross Catholic. She was familiar with school and knew several students. Gaby knew, based on how kind the students were, that she would find an accepting and welcoming environment. Her friends and their families helped her branch out and learn more about possible college and career opportunities. She was also encouraged by her teachers to take advanced placement and honors classes.

“I have been highly challenged, and I discovered that my academic capabilities have no limits. I can always be pushed further than I think or believe” Gaby said.

She began to build confidence for what she was capable of and decided college was the next step for her after high school.

At the beginning of her junior year, Gaby started researching possible college scholarships that she would be eligible for.  She found the QuestBridge National Scholars Network and decided to apply. QuestBridge is a national nonprofit based in Palo Alto, California that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with leading colleges and opportunities. Gaby shared the potential opportunity with her guidance counselor, Mrs. Julie McNamara. McNamara helped guide Gaby as she completed numerous steps in the application process, including connecting with her top colleges junior year and submitting essays and recommendation letters her senior year.

After a long process, Gaby was matched with one of her top college choices. Princeton University awarded her a full ride for four years of tuition, room and board, transportation expenses and more. Gaby is pursuing a major in Molecular Biology and Psychology with a minor in French on a Pre-Med track.

“I believe I am ready for that new chapter in my life and I strongly believe Gross Catholic has highly contributed to me feeling this way” said Gaby.

Gaby is especially interested in studying abroad through programs that combine research and service opportunities. She will join 110 other QuestBridge Scholarship recipients at Princeton and has already begun connecting with several of her future classmates.


Gross Catholic High School is one of 17 Catholic secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Choosing an Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic school means you will experience a loving and faith-filled environment where teachers provide a whole-child approach to learning.  As seen in Gaby’s story, Catholic school students will develop spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and socially.

Rooted in strong partnerships between teachers and parents/students, our Catholic schools are focused on next generation education, leadership development and service to community.