SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Three Santa Ana High School seniors will be leaving the warmth of Southern California for the brisk winds of Cambridge, Massachusetts this fall when they embark on their next chapter as students at Harvard University.
Senior Stephanie Gutierrez still hasn’t yet let the university know she’s accepting their offer of admission, but the 18-year-old will made her choice official in the coming days.
“It took like an hour or two for the news to settle in,” she said. “I was in disbelief. I was like, wait, actually, let me go back and read all of it, maybe I missed a part, but, yeah, it’s starting to settle in. It’s very exciting.”
Her classmate, Oziel Flores, said he struggled with sleep the past few days after finding out that he had been accepted not only to Harvard, but Princeton University as well.
“I feel like the last few days have been very exciting,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure the next couple of months going into Harvard are going to be very exciting as well.”
Both Gutierrez and Flores will be joined this fall by valedictorian Cielo Echegoyen, who was accepted after applying early decision. The teen, who does not own a personal computer, saluted the librarians who gave her snacks as she studied late into the evening.
“I’d get out of school, and I’d walk to the public library that’s a few streets down because my Wi-Fi cuts off at home,” she said. “So I’d use my Chromebook that the school gave me on the Santa Ana Public Library’s Wi-Fi, and I’d stay there until they’d kick me out at 9 p.m. when they closed.”
But their mentor Gloria Montiel-Itzel, an alumna of both Santa Ana High School and Harvard, said it takes more than good grades to get into the Ivy League institution.
“I think it’s a commitment to something other than themselves,” she said. “And I think all three of them, in different ways, have really shown that they care more about their community, their school and making things better for others, and I think that’s something that Harvard really loves.”
In the 132-year history of the school, only six seniors have been accepted to Harvard.