Isabella Espinosa, a senior at Bowling Green High School, is headed to the University of Notre Dame on a full-ride scholarship.

J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune

A Bowling Green High School senior has been accepted into her first college choice and will have her tuition paid, thanks to a national matching program — and outstanding academic ability.

Isabella Espinosa has been officially matched with the University of Notre Dame through Questbridge, and she earned a full-ride scholarship.

Espinosa said her plan is to go into pre-med and Notre Dame offers a good program. South Bend is also close to home.

“I don’t want to move too far. When I visited, it just gave me the same kind of feel that I have over here. It’s not too big of a city,” she said.

Her other choices included Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Oberlin College and Boston College.

Espinosa visited all of the campuses, but said when she went to Notre Dame, she could see herself there.

According to BGHS Principal Dan Black, there were roughly 18,000 Questbridge applicants, and of those only 1,750 got matched with a university.

Questbridge looks for high school seniors who have shown outstanding academic ability despite financial challenges.

During her junior year, Espinosa participated in the College Prep Scholar Program and turned in a practice application. She was a finalist and attended a conference with college partners and resources.

This year, she applied to the national college match by turning in early applications. Espinosa was named a finalist and was asked to rank the colleges she was interested in.

When the top-ranked college receives your application, if they want to match with you and give you that full scholarship, that is their option, Espinosa said.

Notre Dame was her first pick and the only one she matched with, to her knowledge, she said.

BGHS English teacher Adam Jarvis shares information about the program in his classroom. He said he learned about it from a former English colleague.

“I now share this information with all my juniors,” he said. “When Isabella reached out with questions, I realized she was just a natural fit for the program because of her sheer dedication to academics, hard work and grit, all coupled with her inherent good character.”

Jarvis said Espinosa embodied Questbridge’s values of students who are “thoughtful and broad-minded decision-makers.”

“She’s clearly left that impression on more than just me. It was absolutely wonderful to see her hard work pay off when she matched with her top choice school. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving student,” Jarvis said.

At BGHS, Espinosa competes with the swim teamand is president of the Spanish club (she is bilingual). She was on the prom committee last year. She has played piano since the third grade and plays with jazz band, the orchestra and the musicals.

Espinosa plans to major in biochemistry with a pre-med track with a goal of working in the medical field.

“I want to explore,” she said. “There are so many professions.”

She said she was inspired by Hans Glandorf, who teaches science at the high school.

“When I took his unit about biology, I really liked it,” Espinosa said.

Glandorf said when students leave his class, he hopes they take a small understanding of themselves and how they fit into the biological world.

“I hope that a small part of Isabella’s interest in biochemistry stems from the exploration and explanation into how the chemicals of all living things interact,” Glandorf said. “As we better understand the chemistry of ourselves, we can better understand our characteristics, our reactions and our sensitivity to changes in the world around us.”

He said he also hopes his students will be able to ask important questions and understand the answers they are given, understand any medicinal or treatment options they are given, and make important decisions regarding their child’s nutrition, education and discipline.

“I know this will probably sound cliche and corny, but I hope when my students leave my class, they take with them a set of tools to be successful adults and citizens,” Glandorf said.

Espinosa said she has taken a lot of Advanced Placement classes and has a 4.3 grade point average.

“For me, I can concentrate and focus and can learn quickly,” she said about taking four AP classes a year.

Espinosa does not plan to swim at college.

The full-ride scholarship is a blessing for her and her family.

“I don’t know how we would have paid for college. Medical school is expensive so that will give me time to save as much as I can,” she said. “(Now) I’ll be able to have a good education.”

She is the daughter of Angel and Laura Espinosa and has a sister who is a BGHS sophomore.

“I’m just thankful for everyone, my parents, my family, the teachers here, and Questbridge,” Espinosa said.