SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff High School sophomore Jamie Rose Chen was preparing for another school day when her mother told her the email arrived in her inbox. Chen took the ACT this fall, scoring a perfect 36.
Chen missed competing in the Chadron cross country meet to take the test and found some of the questions challenging.
“Some of the questions are kind of weird, but otherwise, it wasn’t too bad,” she said.
Chen has been taking the test since seventh grade, so when she logged into the system to check her results, she clicked on her previous attempt and was puzzled by her results. Then, she navigated to this September and saw she scored a 36.
“I see the 36 and I’m like ‘OK,’” she said. “I was surprised.”
Chen attributes her academic success to her support group.
“I’ve been exceptionally lucky being able to take it multiple times and being able to score so well.” Chen said. “I attribute that to the support I’ve gotten not only from my family, but also from the school districts and all the programs I’ve been involved in.”
As the current Miss Scotts Bluff County Outstanding Teen 2020, Chen said her success academically has opened her eyes up to underprivileged students. Her platform is "Dare to Dream: Defying Boundaries" and seeks to help highly capable, low-income students across the county to have the financial stability to explore opportunities their peers are pursuing. She also hopes to connect students to other programs to address poverty in the community.
“Especially in this community, a lot of students are on free and reduced lunches and we have a poverty problem that no one seems to talk about,” she said.
Chen added that youth who struggle financially are limited in the classroom and extracurriculars as they balance caring for siblings or working to support their families.
“It can be very limiting,” she said. “I know I’ve taken a lot of opportunity I’ve had and experiences for granted. That’s my dream, to change one life at a time.”
During her research, Chen found how income impacts academic success.
“A lot of teachers and educators look at the ACT scores, but this is just based off of income,” she said. “The trend of scores is very much based on how much our parents make.”
Chen is hoping to bring awareness to underprivileged people in the community and provide resources for everyone to be successful.
Although she said scoring a 36 on the ACT is not a big deal, she is striving to provide her peers with similar success.