To the casual observer, Yosemite High School seniors and identical twins Travis and Trevor Wood could be seen as inseparable.
With matching 4.44 GPAs, participating together on the YHS cross country, water polo, soccer, and swimming teams, they’re also members of Key Club and the school’s Academic Decathlon team. The brothers are a force both in athletics and academics - both lifetime members of the California Scholarship Federation who will graduate in June with full International Baccalaureate diplomas.
“We’ve gotten used to being twins and having people constantly ask us questions like who’s older, who’s better, and my personal favorite, have you ever forgotten which one you are,” Travis said.
Instead of those constant questions becoming annoying, the brothers say they use their brotherly bond as a source for success and strength. Even more so when it mattered most - the sudden death of their father when they were in eighth grade.
“It was certainly a traumatic experience,” Travis said, “but also an experience that helped us grow as a person.
“Being twins pushed us to try our hardest at everything we do, in constant, friendly attempts to one up each other,” Trevor said. “That competition is partially what drives us to do the best we can.”
“We kind of compete a little bit, but we both support each other,” Travis said. “We work as hard as we can to do our best together.”
That hard work in and out of the classroom, including helping mother Aileen care for their disabled older brother Sean, who has Down Syndrome while employed as summer lifeguards at the YHS pool, has paid off.
Another older brother, Jared, attends UCLA.
Earlier this month, the Woods eagerly awaited the results of whether they had been matched by QuestBridge, a national non-profit organization based in Palo Alto that connects the nation’s most exceptional, low-income youth with 36 leading institutions of higher education, including Notre Dame, USC, Vassar, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and Dartmouth.
“I was sitting in class, checking my email for the 100th time that day, holding my breath the entire time, when I saw the flashing congratulations from QuestBridge staff,” Trevor said. “I let out a huge sigh of relief.”
“It was completely unbelievable,” Aileen said. “We were all on pins and needles because even though we didn’t think it would happen, it did. We were in awe, and are so thankful for it. A person can take adversity in very different ways. I’m just bursting with pride at how they’ve handled all of it.”
Next fall, they’ll be separated for the first time in their lives as they pursue their career goals at different schools.
Trevor will attend the University of Chicago, his first choice of 12 colleges available through QuestBridge, and will study physics.
Travis plans to become a doctor in sports medicine through his top choice, the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school.
“I had never even considered applying to Penn and I had always assumed that the Ivy League would be out of reach for a small-town kid like myself,” Travis said. “But QuestBridge opened that opportunity up to me, and I will forever be grateful.”
With registration fees, books, and room and board, each of the four-year scholarships is valued between $267,000 and $280,000.
The two said they look forward to the challenge of new academic environments, even if it’s without their brother by their side after growing up together in Yosemite Lakes Park.
“The University of Chicago has a reputation for looking like a Hogwarts castle and its dorms are supposed to be very nice,” Trevor said in reference to the Harry Potter book and movie series. “But other than that, I look forward to a chance to be around some of the brightest professors in the world and attempting to keep up. Now that we are attending different colleges, the new question is, how will you survive apart from each other. I don’t know, we just will.”
Without hesitation, YHS counselor Stephanie Samuels wrote recommendation letters to QuestBridge on behalf of Travis and Trevor.
“Both Travis and Trevor are focused, independent, responsible young men who exhibit maturity beyond their years,” Samuels said. “They are self-directed and motivated, and are conquering the highest level of calculus.”
The Wood brothers are two of 657 high school seniors from 44 states who will receive scholarships this year through QuestBridge. This year there were more than 13,000 applicants who applied to the program. The scholarships are provided by the partner colleges.
It was Stanford students Marc Lawrence and Michael McCullough who had the idea of starting a commuter-based outreach effort in Palo Alto in 1987.
Eight students interested in medicine from East Palo Alto (at the time, one of the poorest communities in the country) journeyed daily to Stanford where they received college lectures and clinical experiences. Then called the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program (SMYSP), the Stanford academic community responded generously with world-class instruction.
The Quest Scholars Program officially started in 1994 as a five-week residential summer enrichment program for high school juniors on Stanford University’s campus. After the summer session, Quest provided five years of academic and personal support to students. Ten years later in 2004, Quest launched QuestBridge in an effort to expand the number of high school students it reached.
By recruiting, developing, and motivating these students - beginning in high school through college to their first job - QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nations’ best colleges and to support them to achieve success in their respective careers and communities.
Details: (650) 331-3280.