Miami-born Sebastian Rojas, a 2018 graduate of the New World School of the Arts high school music program, was among 300 students nationwide chosen this year to receive The Gates Scholarship (TGS) — formerly known as Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS).
As a recipient, he will receive funding for the full cost of attendance that is not already covered by other financial aid and the expected family contribution, as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Rojas was selected from an initial pool of 28,700 applicants and 600 finalists from across the nation. With a nearly perfect SAT score and an impressive 5.1 weighted GPA, Rojas has received more than $1.5 million in other scholarship offers from prominent U.S. universities including Emory University, Northwestern University, Brown University, Princeton University, Fordham University, University of Miami and University of Chicago among others.
On a full scholarship, Rojas, a Baritone in the NWSA high school music division, will be attending Harvard University to pursue a career in the STEM field, although music and the arts will continue to be an integral part of his life.
“I want to keep singing during college, so I might join some type of singing ensemble,” he said. “However, I will still be involved in the arts. I have always loved singing and listening to music, so I will forever try to be involved in the arts. Whether it be through performing or attending performances, I will still advocate for the arts as much as I can, especially now when the arts are deemed as unimportant in our education system.”
Rojas credits NWSA for giving him the tools needed to be among the recipients of TGS this year.
“I believe that having the opportunity to take rigorous classes at NWSA along with the opportunity to be so thoroughly involved in the arts made my application to The Gates Scholarship stand out from the rest. Having such a unique education with a priority in the arts, I was able to participate in many extracurricular activities involving singing, including the New World Singers small ensemble, Florida All-State Choirs, the All-National Honor Choir, the Schmidt Competition, and many more.”
Born in Miami of Colombian parents, Rojas is grateful for the opportunities The Gates Scholarship affords students such as he.
“When my parents left Colombia to live a better life for themselves and for their family, they never imagined that their child, a child of immigrants, would be able to attend college completely free. They were unaware of the opportunities available in the United States, and I knew that they were unprepared to pay for my college education. However, thanks to all their sacrifices and my efforts, I was able to remove that worry from their lives and pursue a higher education at a prestigious university.”
Rojas also has been active in a number of extracurricular activities at NWSA and outside the school. He is the co-president of the Florida Grand Opera Teens, vice president of the Math Honor Society and vice president of the Spanish Honor Society well as the historian of the National Honor Society. He has participated in beach cleanups as a volunteer for nonprofit organizations such as Biscayne Bay Foundation, and the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Additionally, Rojas is an usher for the New World Symphony in Miami Beach and a member of the small ensemble of the New World singers where he performs in numerous events for our community.
“Respectful, intelligent, reliable and humble are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when describing Sebastian. Students and faculty alike would agree that he is blessed with considerable talent,” said Pamela Cabarcos, high school student counselor at NWSA. “Sebastian exhibits extraordinary maturity and confidence among extremely able students. He has a concise path for his life and is fully prepared to do any work necessary to succeed.”
The Gates Scholarship offers its scholars academic support, mentoring and leadership training with the intent of promoting their academic excellence through college graduation, and providing them the opportunity to reach their full potential. Since 2010, New World School of the Arts has been honored with four Gates Scholars: 2010, Aurelia Javier, Visual Arts; 2011, David Figueroa, Music; 2012 Javier Aranzales, Dance, and 2018, Sebastian Rojas, Music.