GTCC Early Middle College student Jorge Suarez unfazed by challenge of Princeton University

Published on: April 1, 2024
Portrait of Jorge Suarez in Medlin Campus Center.
GTCC Early Middle College student Jorge Suarez is not only the first in his family to attend college, but he will be attending Princeton University on a full-ride scholarship.


Jorge Suarez has always believed it best to challenge himself with a rigorous curriculum.

That’s a good thing because the Guilford Technical Community College Early Middle College senior is in store for one of the most rigorous curriculums possible.

He will attend Princeton University next fall on a full scholarship, completing a college dream he’s had for years and continuing his demand for a challenge.

“I knew I wanted to attend a great college, to be the first generation of my family to attend college. I wanted to make my family proud,” said the 18-year-old Suarez. “I wanted to prove to myself and my family that I could handle a rigorous curriculum and do well. It takes a lot of time management, a lot of dedication.”

Suarez enrolled in GTCC Early Middle College as a freshman. It was 2020, the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and his first semester was totally online. The following semester was a hybrid, with some days in the classroom and other days at home. It wasn’t the best way for a 14-year-old to begin college.

“I learn better at school, in class, interacting with my peers and teachers,” said Suarez.

It proved to be a minor bump in the road. Four years later, as he moves closer to a spring graduation, Suarez has a 4.0 unweighted GPA and a 4.6 weighted GPA.

“It has taken a lot of self-discipline and motivation,” said Suarez.

Last summer, Suarez traveled to Bordeaux, France, to study at the Université de Bordeaux Institute of Technology through GTCC’s North Carolina Global Scholars of Distinction Program. It was an unparalleled educational and cultural experience for Suarez.

“I became friends with some of my peers, and together, we explored the city and discovered amazing restaurants and stores that we would frequently return to throughout our trip,” said Suarez. “Towards the end of our first week, we gathered with French students for the first time and learned about their interests and, of course, study.

“I had an amazing time in France, and in college, I hope to study there again.”

Princeton has been at the top of Suarez’s list since he was a freshman. It was one of only two colleges he considered.

A year ago, he was part of the Princeton Summer Journalism School on campus in Princeton, New Jersey. It reinvigorated his passion for the Ivy League university. He wrote all the essays, filled out all the applications, and waited … nervously.

“I remember the day it (the acceptance letter) came. I was so nervous I couldn’t think, so an hour before the decision was supposed to arrive, I took a nap.”

The message arrived via email, and when he opened it, a huge tiger logo filled the page. He had become a Princeton Tiger.

“I gathered my family together to open the decision, and when the Tiger emblem came up on the screen, I was so excited. It was such a good feeling, a full ride to my dream school,” said Suarez, who gives much credit for his success to his decision to attend the GTCC Middle College and the instructors he had while there.

“I still can’t believe it. Sometimes I just check my decision letter to make sure.”

The family that gathered with Suarez for the big reveal? That is the only thing in his life more important than education. There are his mom and dad, two older sisters, and a younger brother. And his 96-year-old grandfather.

“I help take care of my grandfather and help my parents with other things like English translation,” said Suarez, whose parents and grandfather are natives of Mexico.

During the past few years, Suarez has sometimes scheduled his classes to accommodate his familial responsibilities and to spend more time with them.

“This year, I decided to organize my schedule to have more time to help with the family,” said Suarez, who also has been heavily involved in extracurricular activities at GTCC, including the Model United Nations, the student newspaper, and being a student ambassador. “This semester, I only have four classes, and they are on Monday and Wednesday. On the other days, I can work at home and have the weekend to spend time with my family.

“I love my family to death. I think of how they raised me and what I have become because of them. That was reflected in my application to Princeton. My grandfather is 96. Seeing him and talking with him is so important to me. I really want to spend time with him.”

Suarez is already brainstorming ways to keep his family close once he gets to Princeton.

“I’m constantly thinking of ways for my family to come see me in college,” said Suarez. “The (soccer) World Cup final is in New Jersey. That would be a perfect way to get them there. And I’m thinking of other ways.”

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