His classmates are sound asleep and, even, most of his teachers are still dozing when Joey Nartker’s alarm sounds off at 3 a.m. Within the hour he is hard at work at Evans Bakery for several hours before heading to Chaminade Julienne at 7:45 a.m. to begin a full day of school work.
While he works tirelessly – starting before the sun even rises – the CJ student never misses an opportunity to get involved in a CJ performing arts production. Whether it’s the fall play, the spring musical or improv, Nartker is ready to go. He is also an Eagle Ambassador and member of the National Honor Society. His dedication and work ethic are just part of what made Nartker a perfect match for the QuestBridge National College Match program.
Nartker was recently selected for a full tuition, room and board scholarship to Princeton University through the competitive Questbridge program.
“A QuestBridge scholarship is a truly prestigious award with a strenuous application process. Joey's intrinsic drive, his grit, and his sustained positive spirit through sometimes muddy roads are what guided him through his high school years, and got him through this process,” student support coordinator Jama Badinghaus said. “To say I am proud of him doesn't truly do justice to my feelings about this incredible accomplishment. He represents the best of what we hope for our students and I am ecstatic to hear about the opportunities that await him at Princeton.”
QuestBridge aims to increase the percentage of talented low-income students attending the nation's best universities including, but not limited to, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, Duke, Northwestern and Princeton.
The application process was daunting but do-able. The initial application was similar to the common app – detailing everything from academics to extracurriculars. Once Nartker was notified that he was a finalist, the real work began – 27 different essays for the 12 schools to which he wanted to apply.
“The entire process was a college match, so I ranked the 12 colleges in order of preference,” he said. “I could only receive a scholarship from one of them and whichever college gave me the scholarship I was obligated to attend. I was lucky enough to receive an offer from Princeton and the rest is history.”
The Dayton native, who has four siblings, is the first member of his family to attend an Ivy League institution. His initial academic inclination is to major in biological science – a subject he enjoyed at CJ – but he is open to other areas of study.
“Joey is such a deserving young man to receive this prestigious scholarship,” said Greg Mueller, principal. “He has shown his many talents in the classroom and on the stage at CJ. I look forward to seeing Joey take what he has learned about community here at CJ and living that through the next step in his educational journey.”
While Nartker is looking forward to the vast academic opportunities that await him, he is quick to credit several members of the CJ community with his success.
“Mrs. DeLong was the kindest teacher I had ever met when I first started at CJ, that kindness allowed me to be comfortable enough to go after everything I wanted and excel in class,” he said. “Junior year, I met the greatest teachers and mentors I could have ever asked for. Dr. Mominee was a mentor who helped me through all of the drama in my life and allowed me to grow as a person to the point where I could be my authentic self.
“Finally, the person who made all of this possible was Mrs. Badinghaus. She told me to go after this scholarship and helped me through every single step. She found ways to help with this scholarship and issues that I was facing in my life.”
From excitement to nervousness, Nartker has encountered a wide range of emotions since receiving the news about the scholarship but one thing he knows for certain, he is ready for what lies ahead.
“Thanks to this scholarship, I will be able to do amazing things and CJ has given me the self-esteem and talent to succeed at Princeton.”
--This story was published on Jan. 13, 2021.