Fusing heritage and test scores


Photo by and used with permission of Tori Medina

Tori Medina, senior, holds up her National Hispanic Scholarship award certificate. Medina says the award was especially significant to her because it allowed her to connect to her Hispanic heritage.

Ruby Lueras, LZ Life Editor

.0125%. That’s the approximate percentage of National Hispanic Scholar award winners for all juniors that took the 2019-2020 PSAT. The score qualification for this award varies by region, but to even be considered one must be at least one-quarter Hispanic/Latino and have a minimum 3.5 GPA. Of the around 400,000 juniors who took the PSAT, Tori Medina, senior, was the only student from Lake Zurich to be recognized.

“It felt amazing to be recognized for my Hispanic heritage in particular. Even though I’m not fully Hispanic, my dad’s Mexican but my mom’s not, I still love being a part of that culture,” Medina said. “[The award] really allowed me to align myself with my Hispanic side and fully be connected to my culture.”

Medina says that before winning the award, she was completely unaware of its existence. According to Medina, she was already satisfied with her high PSAT score, so the recognition was an added bonus. She initially received an email update on her award status and later was surprised with in-person acknowledgment while in class.

 During hybrid one day, the principal walked in and asked ‘is Victoria here?’ and in my head, I’m thinking ‘what did I do? What happened?’” Medina said. “But, she was just there to give me the official certificate for the award, so that felt pretty cool.”

Medina credits her success with the PSAT to two things: being familiar with the test and having completely new testing conditions as compared to prior years.

“I didn’t actually prepare for the test at all, I didn’t feel a need to since I had already taken it before. I just went into the test knowing I would try my best,” Medina said. “With my anxiety and how distractible I am, I received extended time of the test, and having that really allowed me to focus. I was also in a much better place mentally than I had been in the past so it was a lot less stressful experience that really allowed me to succeed.”