By Marin Murray.

Usually students choose a university because of a specific program of study, academics, or the location.

And while Deborah took all of these into account when making her college decision, one of the important factors was the basketball team, who has won five NCAA national championships and appeared in 11 championship games, which makes attending games a huge deal on campus and a major part of student culture.

 “I chose Duke because of its academic rigor, and pretty much the environment and the student body,” Deborah said. “I also loved its emphasis on being a part of the community and all of the clubs they have. Honestly, my favorite part was just trying something new because it’s so far away and also the basketball team.”

Senior Deborah Musonera has earned a full-ride scholarship to Duke University through QuestBridge, where she will study computer science and psychology beginning in the fall.

“Deborah has worked hard all four years of high school and she started her process early,” college counselor Tamika Braye said. “She is receiving an award based on all of the work she’s put in over these last few years, and she deserves it.”

Deborah began her QuestBridge process in August of 2021, and received her scholarship this spring. QuestBridge is a California-based, non-profit organization that provides low-income and first-generation students with scholarships to attend partner colleges and universities of the students’ preference.

“You rank your colleges and whichever one picks you out of your rankings you go to that one,” Deborah said. “Duke was pretty high in my rankings, so because they picked me I would go there.”

While Deborah is at Duke, she will major in computer science, which she fell in love with during a summer camp, and minor in psychology because of her passion for helping others.

“I chose computer science because I went to a little summer program where I took a coding class and ever since then I’ve just been really interested in it and I wanted to learn more,” Deborah said. “And then I picked psychology, because I like talking to people and helping them with their problems and kind of being like their personal therapist.”

In addition to being eighth in her class, Deborah is senior class president, a student council member, participates in Key Club, Super Crew, and Upward Bound, all while leading a Bible study for younger kids.

“She is a pretty intelligent young lady, and she is always on top of everything,” student council advisor Michaela Holloway said.  “Her work ethic and her determination make her stand out. She’s determined to be successful, and she’s worked hard to do what it takes to get where she is.”

The youngest of 10 children, Deborah moved to the United States with her family when she was five. It was because of the emphasis her dad placed on education, along with her hard work that got her to where she is now.

“I think everybody was just really excited for me, so it was just good to be in that energy,” Deborah said. “My family is obviously going to help me pack and my parents are going to come with me to the plane so I’m not there by myself. My friends have all been very supportive.”

As she prepares to leave for an unfamiliar Duke campus that she has not even visited yet, she plans to carry on the kindness and other lessons she learned at Abilene High.

“I think I’m scared, but excited because it’s definitely going to be different, but sometimes different is good,” Deborah said. “I’m looking forward to starting my future and becoming the person I will be.”