You’ve probably heard by now about the nationwide college admissions scheme that has everyone shook. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin (a.k.a Aunt Becky from Full House) have been charged along with nearly 50 others. While a majority of these students were rich White kids unaware of their parents’ bribing, it appears there was at least one who knowingly participated and her name is Isabelle Henriquez. Yes, a Latina!
According to The Daily Beast, Henriquez is a Dominican-American student (now in her junior year) at Georgetown University who knowingly cheated on her SATs. Her parents Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez were charged in the $25 million college scheme and could serve time in jail. Henriquez’s parents, like many of the parents involved in the college admissions scheme, shelled out millions in briberies in order to get their daughter into one of the country’s top universities. But because Henriquez willingly participated, her Georgetown degree may be in jeopardy.
According to reports, Henriquez’s parents paid close to $425,000 to William Singer, the founder of the Edge College & Career Network (also known as The Key), a for-profit college admissions company based in Newport Beach, California that works to get students into top schools through financial briberies. Singer’s business revolved around helping cheat student’s standardized tests, helping parents to lie on student’s applications for admission, and bribing college athletics coaches. He has since pleaded guilty and has been cooperating with federal investigators.
How exactly did Henriquez willingly participate? She had a crooked proctor sit with her and provide her with the correct answers as she took her SATs. Henriquez and her parents also worked with The Key to bribe Georgetown’s head tennis coach, Gordon Ernst into getting Henriquez on the team despite her lack of tennis experience.
This situation brings up an interesting point when it comes to privilege. As many of us know, privilege comes in many forms. While many of the students that benefited from this college admissions scheme were wealthy White kids, Henriquez happens to be a Latina who also benefited from having wealthy parents. Her father Manuel Henriquez, is the co-founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Hercules Capital, a Northern California venture debt firm. Though he has since voluntarily stepped aside. According to reports he was paid $8,235,700 in 2017 alone — that’s a lot of money. In fact, all that money is why the Henriquez family is able to live in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the nation — San Mateo County in Atherton, California.
This particular story bothers me on a number of levels. The college cheating scheme said a lot about race and reinforced for many of us what we already believed: That if you’re White and wealthy you can manipulate your way into any school of your choice. We’ve witnessed and heard about the unfair discussions surrounding affirmative action, a policy intended to help underrepresented students of color. We even have a president who has attempted to do away with it altogether. Race plays a huge role in why affirmative action is constantly challenged and why some kids get right through admissions with flying colors. But the story of Isabelle Henriquez touches on the specific privileges of wealth alone and how those with wealth and influence are easily able to rig the system to their benefit. What this scandal did was expose the elitism problem in this country and how certain individuals with money believe they deserve a spot at an elite university more than a low-income student who has worked 10 times as hard.
All the wealth in the world shouldn’t give ANYONE ownership to secure a spot anywhere — not at a job or at a university. It’s because of wealthy families like these that low or middle income underrepresented minorities have to constantly prove themselves just to be considered.