Leah Balkaran '23 Named a QuestBridge Scholar

Senior Leah Balkaran was recently named a QuestBridge Scholar, an honor that includes a full scholarship to Washington and Lee University.

Balkaran moved from the South American country Guyana to Memphis in 8th grade to live with her uncle and aunt (Gretchen Wollert McLennon ’93) and enrolled in St. Mary’s. As she approached her senior year, she was unsure of her next steps.

 ⁠“I hadn't even thought about college or what I was going to do after high school,” she said. 

“Would I go back to Guyana? Would I stay and go to an American university? I wasn't sure how I would pay my way through four years of college in America. Although an amazing opportunity, college in America costs a lot of money.”

Balkaran realized her dream was to attend college in the United States. She and her family worked with the College Counseling team to find options to help her achieve this goal.

Their research found QuestBridge, a scholarship program that connects talented students to the nation’s best colleges and universities while easing the financial burdens of attendance.

With her impressive resume, Balkaran was one of 1,755 scholars selected out of almost 18,000 applicants for the Match Scholarship, earning a full scholarship to her top choice, Washington and Lee. 

“When I opened that acceptance letter, I sobbed. I was shocked, relieved, excited, and hopeful all at the same time. Being a QuestBridge Scholar means the world to me,” shared Balkaran.

Balkaran plans on studying business administration and psychology. At St. Mary’s, she runs Cross-Country, serves as president of Beta Club, and is the former vice president of the Black Student Alliance. She is also a member of several clubs and organizations, including the St. Mary’s Community Fund, THRIVE, National Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, Cliosophic Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, GSA, and ASA. ⁠

Now that her dream has become a reality, Balkaran is eager to start her next chapter. “I cannot wait to see what the future holds,” she adds. 

  • Upper School

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