Dream schools become reality

Three seniors moving on to highly selective colleges

By Jorge Corral, Reporter

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Jellyxa Rogel, Div. 872, eagerly went to the bathroom during 7th period to check the decision made on her application. Running to the library, she told Ms. Driesbach that she had been admitted as a first year student at Princeton University.

After receiving significant news, like Rogel did, seniors begin to celebrate their four years of accomplishments and wait for their upcoming plans to unfold.

For some, that might mean packing their bags and going to college across the country. For others, that might mean pursuing an acting career or taking a gap year.

For Jellyxa Rogel, Daniel Puczko, Adrian Rivas and other seniors that means going to a highly selective university where less than 10 percent of applicants are admitted. Going to Princeton, Harvard or Stanford is a dream few achieve.After going through a rough patch in life her junior year, Rogel began the college application process unsure of where she wanted to attend.  She did not give it much thought until the beginning of senior year when she started applying to multiple schools.

As she applied, Rogel kept one school in mind — Princeton University — the only school whose campus she visited on a New York college trip her junior year.

“Immediately setting foot onto Princeton, I thought, ‘This is my school,’” Rogel said. “I fell in love with the campus, the atmosphere, and you could tell it was a close-knit community, and that’s what I really wanted. If I hadn’t visited the school I wouldn’t have applied.”

The sense of insecurity and doubt she had came from how selective Princeton is. The school accepts only 6.5 percent of applicants, which initially discouraged her from applying.

Rogel says that coming to Lane in 7th grade put her ahead of her 2018 graduating class and she credits her acceptance to the opportunities she was given as an LTAC student and Lane student in general. She also believes that her AP Research class had an impact on Princeton’s decision. She centered one of her college essays around the work she had done in the class.

“I was incredibly overjoyed,” she said. “Sometimes it still feels surreal but sometimes I feel like I was meant to go here.”

Adrian Rivas, Div. 874, always had an interest in computer science from a young age.

“Computer science has always touched my mind in a way, ever since I played video games,” Rivas said.

His childhood experiences of taking apart and experimenting with his gaming consoles and his teenage experiences of attending business interviews and expos led him to figure out his career goals.

“To combine both of them I wanted to start my own business in technology,” he said. “And doing my research, Stanford really had that aura of entrepreneurship with it being really close to Silicon Valley.”

Rivas faced many difficulties applying to college. Coming from a community on the Southside of Chicago where only few people go to college because of a lack of resources, he never planned on applying to a highly selective school, especially after seeing the sticker price on Stanford’s website.

Rivas said college seemed unaffordable; therefore he planned  to stay local until he joined the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars program, where he was exposed to different schools and found out about Stanford.

In 2018, Stanford’s acceptance rate dropped to 4.29 percent, admitting only 2,040 of 47,450 students who applied. Despite this, Rivas was admitted as a first year student on a full ride after receiving the Questbridge Scholarship.

He stresses the importance of the support of his friends, family and Lane. He also advises underclassmen to do their research. Rivas suggests to not pay attention to statistics, because with enough resources, going to any school is possible, he said.

Another former LTAC student, Daniel Puczko, Div. 878, said his opportunities at Lane have given him the chance to attend Harvard University next fall.

“When I originally started applying, I just said that I would apply to Ivy Leagues for fun, to see if maybe I’d get into one,” Puczko said. “I never really had an ambition to go to a school like this because I had no clue if I was going to get in.”

In hopes of one day becoming a doctor, Puczko applied to Harvard for a number of reasons. One being that Harvard has one of the best Biology programs in the nation. His passion for biology pushed him to apply knowing that he would benefit from the program.

As a successful swimmer, Puczko was very interested in Harvard’s Division 1 swim team and applied in hopes of swimming for their varsity team, but said he would also be very happy to play club sports as well.

Puczko said that ultimately he applied for the opportunity to go to school with other bright minds from around the country and around the world.

“I was mainly pushed to apply to a school as prestigious as Harvard due to the fact that I would be exposed to so many students that are really outgoing and motivated in the specific field that they want,” he said. “I wanted the opportunity to learn from them in the future.”

Upon receiving his acceptance, Puczko remembered his parents’ tears of happiness. He also remembered them calling their relatives in Poland who were extremely proud of Puczko who will be the first in his family to attend a 4 year university in the United States.

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