Before I talk about Harvard, I first want to give a little background on me that I think is important to the story. I was never a star student. I love being a student and I love learning…in case my three majors haven’t already given that away. Despite this, I never received the grades that reflected my efforts. I was a struggling B student throughout high school. I didn’t expect much more entering college and was quite pleased with my 3.39 GPA after my first semester. Shocked actually, that I had done so well. I continued on and wound up with a cumulative GPA of 3.63 at the end of my first year. I suddenly had a new-found confidence and really strived to keep my grades up, excited to see results. I became determined.
Dr. Primiano spoke with me about the Religious Studies major and told me as a freshman that if I did well, I could apply for Harvard Divinity School for graduate study. I was really taken aback that he had said this to me without really knowing much about me and didn’t really think much of it after our meeting.
I appreciated his optimism, but knew I was not Harvard material. I put it in the back of my mind and continued on. Throughout my Cabrini career, Dr. Primiano would constantly remind me of this possibility and I kept tucking away the idea, sure that there was no way I would ever be good enough for Harvard.
By my junior year, my GPA had increased significantly and I was doing very well. Dr. Primiano told me I had a good chance and encouraged me to apply. I was still unbelieving that I would really get in, but as he, Dr. Rademacher, Father Carl and Stephanie Salinis continued to support and encourage me. I began to believe that I was good enough to apply. I suddenly became very nervous that I wouldn’t get in! Then I had that moment where I thought to myself, “Wow! I actually think I have a chance!” It was beginning to sink in that I had just applied to Harvard and Yale Divinity schools.
While at first I was nervous, I soon forgot about it and naturally, received my acceptance letters when I least expected it. I will never forget this moment. I cried. I called my parents. We all cried. It was unreal. I had just been accepted into Harvard Divinity School. Soon after, I received my acceptance from Yale.
As much as I regret allowing something to come into my life to make me feel “good enough,” Harvard relieved me of the pressure that had been weighing on my shoulders senior year and was really beginning to take a toll on me.
Prior to my acceptance, I was really starting to feel down. I felt as though I needed to do more. That what I had done was just not enough somehow. I couldn’t be proud in the moment of my accomplishments. I had begun to look too far ahead and not take the time to revel in my works. I suddenly felt this great sense of inner peace and lightness. I am enough.
I want each and every person to know that I am proud of you. That you are enough. Be better than me. Don’t wait for something to let you know you are good enough. There is no need to wait. No matter where you are in life, what you are doing, what you have accomplished, whether or not you feel lost or know exactly where you are going, you are enough. You are enough. You are enough. More than enough.
And you can make your dreams come true. If I can get into Harvard, you can get into your “Harvard.” Dedicate yourself. Work hard. Learn about yourself. Choose a path to follow and listen, listen, listen to your heart. Have faith in yourself. Don’t be afraid to go where no one else has gone. You are already extraordinary so live it and be it!
I am happy to say I have finally made my decision about after graduation. The discernment process was not in any way easy. My plan for about a year now has been to apply to grad schools and then defer for a year to do a year of service. I really feel called to do service abroad and know it is something I must do before grad school.
It is the perfect time and I feel in my heart it is right. Well, then I was accepted to both Harvard and Yale and was presented with a very difficult decision. I decided I felt much more connected with Harvard after my visits and was faced with “Do I defer Harvard?” My parents do not want me to do a year of service and tried everything in the book to convince me to take the opportunity to go to Harvard and drop the idea of service.
I know many people will say I am foolish, but with the great help of my professors, mentors and friends who have supported me through this discernment process and continuously encouraged me to follow my heart, I have requested deferment from Harvard and have accepted my position as a volunteer for one year in Ecuador with the organization Rostro de Cristo.
I found out just a few days ago that I was not deferred, which means that I must reapply to Harvard if I decide I still would like to go next year. Despite this disappointment, I know that service is where God is calling me to right now and I am happy to put my faith in Him and go where He is leading me.
I know that Harvard is a once in a lifetime opportunity and most people think I am crazy for putting it on the line, but I cannot deny God or what I feel in my heart. If in the end I wind up not going to Harvard, I will know that God has something differently great in store for me and I cannot be sad about that. I can only be happy and excited for the road that is before me in Ecuador. And I absolutely am!
My last bit of advice for you, besides that you are absolutely beautiful, wonderful, unique, good enough and extra ordinary, is this: No matter what your heart is calling you to, please, follow it. Even when people don’t understand. Even when your every action is questioned. If it is worth it for you, don’t let anyone or anything hold you back. Everything will fall into place. But at the end of the day, you will only have yourself and your heart to answer to. At the end of the day, were you true to your heart? I hope you will always find the faith and courage to do just that. If there is no one else to say this, I believe in you.