Oct 6 – Even though she moved over 1,000 miles from home to attend Yale University, Decatur High 2021 graduate Christian Bailey said New Haven, Connecticut was not much different from where she grew up.
âI would describe New Haven as a bigger Decatur,â Bailey said. âMost of New Haven is Yale so it’s not too crazy or too busy. The people are really nice and it’s a safe environment. I don’t feel in danger of going anywhere alone in this city.”
Bailey started his first term at Yale last month after earning an all-expense paid scholarship to the Ivy League School through the QuestBridge program. She initially thought that Yale University might be competitive because of its reputation, but found that there wasn’t much rivalry among the students.
âI have tons of friends,â Bailey said. âMy classmates are great. We have group discussions and study groups to help each other with our homework. The main reason I chose Yale was the community I heard about, and it s ‘turned out to be exactly that. “
She said if she hadn’t been given the opportunity from Yale, she would have enrolled in a public university in Alabama.
âBeing low-income, I always thought I would just go to state college in Alabama,â Bailey said. “I would have gone to Alabama or Auburn or UAB, something more affordable.”
Bailey enjoys researching court documents and immigration records in her Asian-American history class. Criminal justice and human rights are some of the things that fascinate her.
âIt’s very interesting,â Bailey said. “I had lunch with one of my teachers and I remember him saying to me, ‘Find those moments that enlighten you.’ Reading these court cases made me want to sue the court system even more and get into this field. “
Bailey is also taking the course at the Black Nature: African American Nature Writing seminar she loves, where she wrote nature essays and read an account by abolitionist and civil rights activist Frederick Douglass.
She said her classwork was difficult, but she was able to persevere.
âI have a lot of reading to do and I write a lot of essays,â Bailey said. “There are homework assignments that require me to write 300 to 500 words that need to be submitted in a short period of time. It’s tough, but it’s definitely manageable.”
Bailey’s mother and twin brother keep in regular contact with her. Her brother calls her almost every day to see how she is.
âI remember the day after I moved in, I know my mom was a little emotional,â Bailey said. “It took a while for him to adjust because my brother and I are both out of the house now.”
Bailey came to Yale through QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that works with low-income, high-performing high school students to connect them with top colleges. Bailey was among more than 18,500 students who applied to QuestBridge in its final year, and 6,885 became finalists. Among the finalists, 1,464 students, including Bailey, received Match Scholarships, meaning they were admitted to a top university with a full four-year scholarship.
Bailey said she hopes to see her peers returning to Decatur follow in her footsteps.
âI hope I can inspire others to follow their dreams,â she said.
After graduation, Bailey said she had no plans to return to Alabama.
âI’m probably going to stay in Connecticut,â Bailey said. “I love the area here, so I’m either going to stay here or move somewhere in the northeast.”
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