To Harvard she will go!
Jacinta Olonilua was accpeted into five Ivy League colleges
There was a day back in March when all Port Chester High School senior Jacinta Olonilua wanted to do was check her phone. She finally decided it would be best to wait. When she finally got around to it later that evening, she would not be disappointed.
The first message she read on her phone, while she was hidden in a bathroom at her home, was great news and the following messages equally positive.
Jacinta was reading the notices she had received on Ivy Day, when students learn if they have been accepted into the Ivy League schools to which they had applied.
As she read the many notifications, she texted messages to family members. From her hiding spot she could hear her dad shout with glee.
In the end, Jacinta had been accepted into five Ivy League schools: Yale, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and Harvard.
“I was always attracted to Ivy League schools,” Jacinta said. “I knew Ivy League schools would be challenging and rigorous.”
An older sibling went to school in Boston, and on visits she and her father would sometimes walk through the Cambridge campus of Harvard University. “I always imagined myself being there,” she said.
Come this fall, that is exactly where she will be.
“It was such a good moment,” Jacinta said, recalling that day when she hid in a locked room to find out if she had been accepted to either of her dream schools — Harvard and Columbia.
“Everyone I told was so happy,” she said, adding she even got a hug from her school principal and the news brought tears to her school counselor Marta Sandoval.
The word got out about her special achievement when her school celebrated College Acceptance Day on April 26, when all seniors heading to college are recognized and celebrate their achievement with photos of them wearing shirts and sweatshirts from their college of choice. Jacinta was among them, wearing her Harvard shirt and baseball cap.
Jacinta plans on majoring in chemistry and is considering a career in pharmacology or possibly becoming a surgeon.
“It was always about the curriculum and reaching the next level,” Ms. Sandoval said of how Jacinta selected the schools she would apply to.
“She has such great qualities,” she continued. “She’s more than just the academics. She’s funny and creative. She will definitely be missed.”
“I know I still have to work hard,” Jacinta said of the last few weeks of school, although she did admit she is counting down the days until graduation.
“It’s such a big relief,” she said of having the college applications and waiting for acceptance notices behind her.
“It’s nice to know all that stress was for something,” she said.
Throughout high school, Jacinta took several AP and International Baccalaureate courses, including taking an advanced calculus class. She even took courses over the summer to get a jump on her calculus work.
“I think that was helpful for me. Those classes were not a joke,” she said. “They gave me insight into how much work I will have to do in college.”
When not busy with her school work, Jacinta is involved in the drama club, working as part of the crew since seventh grade. She is also a member of the debate club and was co-captain of the volleyball team. Outside of school, she works as a receptionist at a nearby nursing home.
Her debate experience and her job both helped her learn how to work with others and took her out of her comfort zone.
“I always tried to make sure I had a lasting impact on whatever I do,” Jacinta said.
What was important to Jacinta, her guidance counselor said, was “quality over quantity.”
Although she is ready to begin the next chapter in her academic life, Jacinta said she will always remember the support she received as a student in Port Chester Public Schools.
“No one ever told me no,” she said. “That support was crucial to my success.”
Jacinta moved to the area and began attending John F. Kennedy Elementary School in the third grade.
“The principal at the time is why I love math so much,” Jacinta said. “He made it fun. If not chemistry, then it would have been math.”
Jacinta’s advice to those who will soon be doing their own college applications is to apply to a few Ivy League schools.
“If they choose you, there is a reason,” she said. “Apply and see what happens.”