UCW Senior Tumininu Onabanjo Receives Full Ride to the University of Chicago
We are thrilled to announce that Tumininu Onabanjo, a senior at our UChicago Charter Woodlawn (UCW) High School, has been accepted to the University of Chicago Class of 2026 with a full-ride scholarship! Tumininu was matched with the University of Chicago through the QuestBridge National College Match program, which enables academically excellent, low-income high school seniors to apply early to the nation’s top colleges. If applicants are matched with a college, they receive early admission and a four-year scholarship that covers tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.
In 2021, more than 16,500 high school seniors applied for the QuestBridge College Match Scholarship. Among those applicants, 6,600 were selected as finalists who were deemed competitive for the college match program.
However, only a fraction of finalists were actually matched with a college like Tumininu. The finalists had extremely competitive applications: this year, QuestBridge Scholar finalists had an average GPA of 3.91, and nearly nine out of 10 finalists were in the top 10% of their high school graduating class. Tumininu is among the only 14% of QuestBridge Scholar finalists this year who hail from the Midwest.
We are so proud of her and her hard work that stood out to the QuestBridge and UChicago admissions committees, and our College Graduation Office (CGO) is thrilled to see the fruition of their work with her. “They actually guided me a lot,” Tumininu explained. “Especially writing essays, completing my FAFSA… Without them, I really would have been stuck.”
“They actually guided me a lot,” Tumininu explained. “Especially writing essays, completing my FAFSA… Without them, I really would have been stuck.”
Yet everyone who knows Tumininu also knows that she is an incredibly capable and driven student. “She holds herself to a high standard, always wanted to improve and has been unrelenting in her pursuit of academic excellence,” said Ms. Steele, one of Tumininu’s teachers at UCW.
“Unrelenting” is a good word to describe Tumininu’s ambition: beyond succeeding in the most challenging courses offered by UCW High School, she has successfully completed several rigorous, extracurricular college preparation programs during her high school career.
Through the Collegiate Scholars Program — a three-year college prep program offered by the UChicago Office of Civic Engagement — she has taken summer courses in humanities, social science, and mathematics taught by UChicago faculty. She also participated in leadership development programming throughout the academic year.
During her sophomore year, she completed the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP) offered by the UChicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She spent many of her Saturdays during the winter months on the UChicago campus to participate in lectures, discussions, and a group research project mentored by UChicago Pritzker faculty and students.
“It actually motivated me on the path to medicine,” Tumininu explained. Her passion for understanding the brain coupled with her exposure to different medical fields through an anatomy course have informed her plans to pursue a career in neurosurgery or neuroscience research.
“Without UCW, I wouldn’t have experienced many college prep programs — most of the programs I did were through UChicago. The Collegiate Scholars Program, HPREP, and ACHIEVE all came to our school. That was a very big step to me,” she said.
“Without UCW, I wouldn’t have experienced many college prep programs — most of the programs I did were through UChicago.”
On the other hand, learning how to balance all of her extracurricular activities with her schoolwork was one of the core challenges — and skills—Tumininu mastered during her high school career. “I’ve had to learn how to manage my time with schoolwork and after-school work,” she noted. “But my parents worked around my schedule, and I worked around theirs. It was something really collaborative, actually. I was raised with a lot of support from them.”
Most recently, Tumininu completed the ACHIEVE program, which connected her with fellow high school students from the South Side and UChicago undergraduates interested in medicine and public health. Together, they tackled a community-focused challenge to address an education- and health-related issue in addition to participating in other leadership development and educational activities.
“I’ve learned a lot of skills — from learning to write an essay, to how to make PowerPoints, to being a leader… A lot of skills that prepare you for college and after college,” said Tumininu.
Tumininu is also a distinguished athlete, having played club volleyball throughout her high school career in addition to playing for the UChicago Charter girls volleyball team, for which she serves as team captain.
Last, but not least, Tumininu is very intentional about making time to give back to her community. She has volunteered at the Greater Chicago Food Depository on a monthly basis and sings in her church choir. Tumininu’s passion for gardening also led her to volunteer in Gerber’s Garden, a school and community garden program on the UChicago Charter Woodlawn campus.
What advice would Tumininu give to other students looking to follow in her footsteps? “I would advise them to take it… If you can do the program, it will be worth it in the end. Not only will you have something to put on your college applications, but you’ll get a lot of friends. I have so many diverse friends because of this program,” she said.
“I would advise them to take it… If you can do the program, it will be worth it in the end. Not only will you have something to put on your college applications, but you’ll get a lot of friends. I have so many diverse friends because of this program.”
“Sexual diversity, racial diversity, ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity. I’ve experienced more of real life, because when you go to college, you’ll experience a whole new life with a lot of people who are different from you,” noted Tumininu.
Candace Kyles, the Senior Director of the College Graduation Office at the UChicago Charter School, reflected on the transformative power of these experiences: “As she’s gained confidence in herself as a scholar, I saw the transformation she made as a person. I have seen Tumininu exude a surety of self inside the classroom.”
We hope that sureness of self stays with you through college and beyond, Tumininu. We cannot wait to hear about your impact on the world.