Decatur High graduate enjoys first term at Yale University

·3 min read

Oct. 6—Even though she has moved more than 1,000 miles from home to attend Yale University, 2021 Decatur High graduate Christian Bailey said New Haven, Connecticut, is not too different from where she grew up.

"I would describe New Haven as a bigger Decatur," Bailey said. "Most of New Haven is Yale, so it's not too crazy or too busy. The people are really nice and it's a safe environment. I don't feel unsafe going anywhere by myself in this city."

Bailey began her first term at Yale last month after earning an all-expenses paid scholarship to the Ivy League school through the QuestBridge program. She initially thought Yale University might be competitive because of its reputation, but she's found there isn't much rivalry among students.

"I have tons of friends," Bailey said. "My classmates are wonderful. We have group chats and study groups to help each other with our homework. The main reason I chose Yale was because of the community I heard about, and it's turned out to be just that."

She said that if she had not received the opportunity from Yale, she would have enrolled in a public university in Alabama.

"Being low income, I always thought I would just go to a state college in Alabama," Bailey said. "I would've gone to Alabama or Auburn or UAB, something more affordable."

Bailey has been enjoying researching court documents and immigration records in her Asian-American history class. Criminal justice and human rights are some of the things she is passionate about.

"It's very interesting," Bailey said. "I had lunch with one of my professors and I remember he said, 'Find those moments that make you light up.' Reading those court cases, it just made me want to pursue the legal system even more and get into that."

Bailey is also taking the Black Nature: African American Nature Writing seminar course that she enjoys, where she has written essays pertaining to nature and has read a narrative of abolitionist and civil rights activist Frederick Douglass.

She said her classwork has been challenging, but she has managed to persevere.

"I have a lot of reading I have to do and I write a lot of essays," Bailey said. "There are assignments that require me to write 300 to 500 words that have to be submitted in a short amount of time. It's hard, but it's definitely manageable."

Bailey's mother and twin brother stay in regular contact with her. Her brother calls her almost every day to see how she is doing.

"I remember the day after I moved in, I know my mom was a little emotional," Bailey said. "It's taken some time for her to adjust because me and my brother are both out of the house now."

Bailey arrived at Yale through QuestBridge, a nonprofit organization that works with low-income, high-achieving high school students to match them with top colleges. Bailey was among more than 18,500 students who applied to QuestBridge her senior year, and 6,885 became finalists. Of the finalists, 1,464 students, including Bailey, received Match Scholarships, meaning they were admitted to a top college with a full four-year scholarship.

Bailey said she hopes to see her peers back in Decatur follow in her footsteps.

"Hopefully I can inspire other people to follow their dreams," she said.

After graduation, Bailey said she has no plans to return to Alabama.

"I'll probably stay in Connecticut," Bailey said. "I like the area around here, so I'll either stay around here or move somewhere in the Northeast."

—wesley.tomlinson@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438.

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