Bradley grew up in Redding, California, a few hours in between the border of Oregon and Sacramento, in an area “between country and city. As I grew up, the city began to encroach on me.”
Despite being largely active in activities like robotics, choir and theater (that is, before the programs got cut), “I never really liked high school.” He describes the culture of his school and where he grew up as going to a community or a state college if you could “get to that level.” Living in a rural area, he of course mentions trades were popular, and “nobody in my hometown had heard of Rice.”
That’s why QuestBridge has been so impactful for him, though at first, after receiving a letter in the mail about the program, he thought “this looks interesting, but I just thought it was another scam.” But Bradley says the motivation for him was always to get a scholarship in order to pay for his college. He describes going through different QuestBridge partner schools and searching for the school with the best financial aid. “Rice was number one because it was paid in full.”
Take any opportunity that’s given to you, and learn what your restrictions are. It is ok to say no in college.
But there were other things that made him rank Rice as well, like when he found out about the OEDK and all that this unique lab has to offer students, which, to a former robotics student, had to be exciting; “I said that is going to be my home away from home when I get there.”
Of course, after the ranking process, QuestBridge students have to wait to find out their match, which Bradley describes as “just sitting for a month in November waiting.” But then on December 1st, he says he connected his computer to his TV so that his family could find out the results of the QuestBridge match with him. Opening that congratulations email, “it’s an exhilarating feeling because [Rice was] number one on my list.”
However, he also describes the self-doubt that came with it, something that many high-achieving low-income students face when making a choice that affects their future. He says “you’ll get messages from other schools that are like, ‘congratulations on getting into Rice! We’re sorry that you aren’t able to come to our school.’ I got stuff like that from Princeton, MIT.” But at the end of the day, after arriving on campus, he says “I’m glad I went to Rice.”
Now at Rice, he’s a mechanical engineering major, and while he started off trying the new business management major, he’s since changed that to a minor. As he had thought while researching Rice, he likes to study at the OEDK and McMurtry’s Innovation Space, and actually “[I] used both to fix my bike, I built a TV stand/monitor for my room [...] you put in the time in any of those spaces, it’s worth it.”
As for the Rice community, Bradley enjoys the socialization on campus. “Rice is bigger than my school. It still has that “homey” feel, but I’m always meeting new people,” including students who come from diverse backgrounds. He even helped start a libertarian club on campus, and has been involved in other ways such as the college republicans club, representing the diversity of thoughts and ideas that Rice is known for.
He’s also involved in the QuestBridge community at Rice, meeting up with other scholars, who have “get-together parties to get to know everyone.” One of the cornerstones of the Rice experience is that tight-knit community you’ll find, so it’s no surprise this extends to the QB Community as well; Bradley says that “this year, we’re planning on having mentors and families” as a way for students to really foster that connection with each other.
Bradley’s more recent experiences haven’t stopped at Rice either. “I had an internship with [Chevron] in Midland, Texas last summer, and they called me back seven days after I left.” He’s planning on interning with them again next summer, this time in Bakersfield, California. He credits the career center for “help[ing] me get my resume on track” as well as his actual classroom experiences, like his financial accounting course, as well as the other classes he’s taken that “taught me about analytical thinking.”
When reflecting on his application process, Bradley advocates for being yourself. He says “I recommend not trying to hide things; be as open as possible. [...] The more you explain who you are and who you want to be, the more colleges will be able to get an idea about you.” He also suggests taking advantage of interviews, where you can show your personality more, though he didn’t necessarily need that; he shared that “I put down that I am a big fluffy teddy bear” and that “I am loud and boisterous.”
His final piece of advice for students? “Take any opportunity that’s given to you, and learn what your restrictions are. It is ok to say no in college. Rice gives you a “Monster’s Inc Style closet of doors” and you can open every single one, but each time you open a door takes away time from another door you’ve opened.”