NWSA music student Sebastian Rojas selected as 2018 Gates Scholar

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Sebastian Rojas press release photo.Miami-born Sebastian Rojas, a 2018 graduate from the New World School of the Arts high school music program, was among the 300 students nationwide chosen to receive The Gates Scholarship (TGS) this year - 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). Sebastian 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, Sebastian 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. 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.”
Sebastian 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, Sebastian is grateful for the opportunities The Gates Scholarship affords students such as himself and comments, “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.”
Sebastian has also 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, the 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, Sebastian 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.
Other notable achievements for Sebastian include AP Scholar with Distinction, National Hispanic Recognition Program 2017-2018 Scholar, Questbridge Finalist, Posse Finalist, Schmidt Vocal Competition $100 Encouragement Award, Principal Honor Roll, Superior Honor Roll, Most Valuable Freshman, Outstanding Achievement in Spanish for Spanish Speakers I, Outstanding Achievement in English I, and Outstanding Achievement in Music.
“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 Ms. 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.

About NWSA: The distinguished history of the New World School of the Arts began in 1984 when the Florida State Legislature established the institution to provide artistically talented high school and college students the means to achieve both an academic education and artistic training. In September 1986, NWSA opened its doors to students in grades ten through twelve. NWSA’s audition-based programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art, Dance, Music and Theater. NWSA offers the high school diploma as well as a four-year BFA or BM college degree. New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. It is an educational partnership between Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. For information about New World School of the Arts, please call at 305-237-3135 or visit nwsa.mdc.edu.
About NWSA’s Music program: The National Association Schools of Music (NASM) accredited music curriculum at New World School of the Arts fosters creativity and develops musical growth. A faculty comprised of professional working musicians guide the coursework that includes music history, theory, sight singing and elective courses and ensembles, to name a few. In addition to the instrumental and vocal tracks, composition majors are afforded the guidance to discover their musical voices by having their works performed by live musicians. Annual performances in state-of-the-art venues include a fully staged annual College Opera Theater production and the NWSA Symphony Orchestra concert. Information about the NWSA Music program is available by calling 305-237-3622.

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