Senior Receives Full Ride to Northwestern

December 13, 2016



Mason Kemnitz poses with his parents, who were incredibly proud when they heard about his scholarship.

Photo courtesy of Mason Kemnitz — the scholar poses with his parents, who were proud when they heard about his scholarship.

By Max De Jong

After years of hard work and sleepless nights, there is no better feeling than being awarded a $300,000 scholarship to one of the top universities in the country. For senior Mason Kemnitz, all of his work payed off.

Kemnitz, an ASK Academy engineering scholar, has received a $300,000 scholarship from the QuestBridge Association, which includes a full ride to one of his top choices: Northwestern University in Chicago.

Kemnitz said applying for the scholarship was no easy task. “First, Ms. Shimada had to recommend me, then I had to fill out an application for the scholarship where they then determine if I’m a finalist. After I found out I was a finalist, I had to submit all twelve college applications over the course of a week, I had over 20 essays to write,” he said. It was stressful for Kemnitz, especially since he said  he wasn’t always been a perfect scholar.

“I wasn’t really a smart freshman–I got into a lot of trouble, I even have a suspension on my record,” he said. “My grades were dropping, and I was barely able to get them back up. I have also had some deaths in the family, ones that have disrupted things.” Yet still, he was able to turn things around. “Coming from a lower income family, I want to break that tradition in a way. If I ever have kids, I don’t want them to have to worry, I want them to do what they want to do,” Kemnitz said.

In the end, his hard work and diligence paid off. “When I found out I won, I was quite stunned. Honestly, I was speechless. My next response was running around telling everyone,” he said.  His parents and teachers were there to share in his excitement. “My dad was, let’s say, a lot more vocal about it, and then my mom just broke down crying.”

Nadyne Shimada, a project manager at ASK, helped Kemnitz throughout the tedious application process. “I’ve been nominating students for about 13 or 14 years and have had several semi-finalists, but Mason is the first one to actually get a match.  So, frankly it’s not about his success; it’s about mine.  Yep –it’s all about me,” she said. 

Photo by Naudia Lane. Kemnitz said Ms. Shimada mentored him during the scholarship process.

Photo by Naudia Lane. Kemnitz said Ms. Shimada mentored him during the scholarship process.

For many scholars, this is a rare opportunity. “The fact that it allows me to get into a school like Northwestern means a lot, mainly because I want to go into business. Going to a school like this provides an excellent business course, that way I can get into one of the top schools,” he said. 

Not only does this scholarship provide a full ride for all four years of college, it covers the cost of books, a meal plan and travel expenses. Kemnitz provided a few words for students applying for  scholarships. “Be honest, and be persistent.”

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