Clau Diah Buenconsejo, a senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School, sat at a round table Wednesday morning discussing college applications with her classmates – unaware that she was about to be handed a full-ride scholarship to GW.
University President Thomas LeBlanc, Dean of Admissions Costas Solomou, the Colonial mascot and Buenconsejo’s family walked into the classroom to surprise her with the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship – an annual full-ride award to attend GW. Buenconsejo is one of 10 recipients of the scholarship this year and the only student selected from Theodore Roosevelt High.
“I would see the George Washington building and it was a mirror – I could see the students and the professor learning together and I’d always wondered what it would feel like sitting in there,” she said. “I just can’t believe it.”
The scholarship was created in 1989 to attract D.C. high school students to GW and covers the cost of tuition, room and board, books and fees. It was renamed the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Scholarship Program in 1999 after President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg.
Buenconsejo, who moved from the Philippines three years ago, said she plans to pursue a degree in psychology to become a clinical psychologist.
Sonia Buenconsejo, the recipient’s mother, said her daughter planned to attend any university that would offer financial aid. When her husband received a call Monday to notify them of her scholarship, she said they were “overjoyed” because their daughter can now attend college close to home.
“I know how hard she has worked to apply for scholarships, for college funding,” she said. “It’s a really, really great thing for her being accepted, being granted a full scholarship with GW.”
Aqueelha James, the principal of Roosevelt High School, said that given Buenconsejo’s commitment to schoolwork and extracurriculars, she is a “very deserving” recipient of the award.
“I am really super proud of this young lady,” she said. “What she does in the building and outside of the building is outstanding.”
LeBlanc and other administrators made the rounds to nine different high schools throughout the day to deliver the news to the 10 recipients. This was LeBlanc’s first time handing out the awards, as it is an annual tradition for the University president to announce each winner.
He said he was honored to represent the University with the award and “be the one who gets to say, ‘you have been selected.’” The scholarship has been awarded to 174 students since the program began.
The University offers several partnerships with high schools in the District. At Schools Without Walls, students can take classes at GW for credit. In 2015, the District Scholars Award was added to make the University more financially accessible for D.C. high schoolers.
“D.C. is our home – That’s where the University is and this is one way we give back to our community,” LeBlanc said. “We recognize the academic talent in our backyard and we make sure that they can attend GW.”