Arlington Citizen-Journal

Their journey began on a school bus. Now these inaugural STEM grads are riding to MIT


Trinity Stallins and Sam Maldonado first met on a bus on their way to the Arlington Martin STEM Academy as part of the inaugural class. They immediately became good friends.

Now, their journey will take them across many states as they will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) together near Boston in Cambridge. Both students received full scholarships to the university, one of the nation’s most prestigious.

“We were actually supposed to go to Arlington High School,” Stallins said with a chuckle. “Being on that bus together our freshmen year brought us together.”

Stallins was the first to apply to MIT. Then, with the help of Maldonado’s family, she talked her friend into doing the same.

“We were talking about what we were going to do past high school, and Trinity immediately said ‘MIT!’” Maldonado said.

Stallins learned in December that she had been accepted. At that point Maldonado applied and received the same positive email response.

“It was surreal,” Maldonado said. “I couldn’t believe I got into MIT.”

Both students credit their teachers and school administrators for pushing them to their success.

“The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy was a very big influence. It’s given me a lot of opportunities and it’s been very eye-opening in a lot of ways,” Maldonado said. “And yet, I’m still getting a typical high school experience with extracurricular activities, sports, prom.”

Martin High Principal Marlene Roddy said of their accomplishment: “This is just off the charts. We can’t remember a time when one of our students was admitted to MIT, and here we have two.

“These kids earned it. They took advantage of every opportunity and exceeded every standard. They took risks that paid off.”

Stallins and Maldonado plan to be engineers.

“My biggest goal is to help people and work with people in ways that help them in the biggest way,” Stallins said. “Whether it’s impoverished people, disaster relief, or something in the environment since it’s ever-changing, I just want to make a difference.”

Maldonado added, “I’d love to be a part of something small but important, maybe start my own engineering company.”

Maldonado also said her father urged her to apply.

“He believed I could do it, so I applied and got accepted,” she said.

Both agreed that having their good friend alongside them will be a comfort as they adjust to life a long way from home.

“One hundred percent,” Maldonado said. “It’s intimidating going that far from home, and having my friend their as support will be a huge plus.”

And, it looks as though they’ll still be riding a bus together. Both said they love Boston’s mass transit system and plan to use it to get through the city’s notoriously busy traffic.

“I went up there for the first time to visit and there were no places to park,” Maldonado said.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram