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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 06/28/2010

Haitian-American teen gets into 4 Ivy League schools

By Valerie Strauss

Getting into one Ivy League school is a big deal, but four?

That’s what happened to Marie-Fatima Hyacinthe, 17, a first-generation Haitian-American student who was born and raised in New York's working class neighborhood of East Flatbush in Brooklyn.

The teenager talked to ESSENCE.com about being accepted at Harvard University, Yale University, Brown University and University of Pennsylvania. She also discussed why she settled on Harvard and the importance of education. Here’s part of the interview, and you can find the rest at ESSENCE.com, here.

ESSENCE.com: Can you tell us about finding out you had been accepted into Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Brown?
MARIE-FATIMA HYACINTHE: I’m still in shock. My friends were really excited and said they weren’t surprised, but I was....

ESSENCE.com: Tell us about your high school career. What helped you get to where you are?
HYACINTHE: In the seventh grade my family applied for a program called "A Better Chance" which helps students of minority backgrounds get into independent schools all over the country. Because of that I was able to attend the Hewitt School, an all-girls independent school in New York City. It’s really small -- there are only 30 of us in our grade -- so I was able to see where my passions lied and really cultivate my interests. I can say my school played a huge part because its so small and we got individualized attention.

ESSENCE.com: What kind of student are you?
HYACINTHE: I’m one of those people who loves to learn new things. I’m a very big reader and I like having conversations at all times. I think some of my best learning moments have come from my peers, which is the reason why I chose Harvard because I felt like the students there would have a lot to teach me. I hate math, but other than that I’m a very open and interested learner.

ESSENCE.com: What about the way your parents raised you made it possible for you to be so interested in learning?
HYACINTHE: I come from a family that is very interested in education. My mother works as a social worker in schools, I have an aunt who is a teacher and another who is a principal. I’m a first-generation Haitian-American. My parents are Haitian immigrants so they value education and hard work above everything because of their background. That taught me to try my best and constantly work at my highest potential. I think I’ve learned a lot about self-motivation and being community-minded from my parents.

ESSENCE.com: Have you thought about what this means to you as a Black female?
HYACINTHE: The school that I just graduated from is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan so I’m used to being one of a few students of minority background. I feel like it’s not going to be that much of a change, besides, Harvard has a very strong African-American community so I think I’m prepared. I’ve had this conversation with my family and I think I’m ready.

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By Valerie Strauss  | June 28, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  cc, getting into the ivy league, haitian american accepted into four ivy league schools, ivy league admissions, teen accepted into four ivy league schools  
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Comments

Why does these articles about fabulous African American students never mention test scores? If it had been a white or Asian kid who got in (and I know more than one of both who got into Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford), the test scores would be mentioned.

Either she had top ten percent test scores for an African American (550 or higher per section) or she's one of the approximately 150 or so African Americans every year who actually has scores over 700 in two or three test sections.

I find it hard to believe that the latter occurred without them mentioning it.

The most likely reason it's not mentioned is because it would make it painfully clear how much lower the standards are for African American students. This girl might be working class, but she's gone to nothing but extraordinary schools her entire life--presumably on scholarship. If all that attention couldn't make her competitive without affirmative action, what does that say?

And again, if she did have scores in the genuinely accepted, no thumb on the scales range, then why not mention it?

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | June 28, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

@ Cal_Lanier--
For the record, she is Haitian-American. I think you may have commented on a post I had about test scores for African Americans on a previous article (apologies if you didn't but if I have the correct person) I'd like to know if you are still using the data from the 2005 article for your comments and do you think test scores should be the only determining factor in college acceptance? Why such a fixation on test scores? What is your position on minorities and higher education?

Posted by: eaglechik | June 28, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Interesting - she credits small class size and her family, but not specific teachers.

Posted by: efavorite | June 28, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Since no test scores or class rank are mentioned, it's obvious those measures are sub-par and Hyacinthe is a diversity admission, period. Her ethnicity and personal story are her qualifications.

Welcome to the brave new diverse America, where colorfulness counts for more than academic accomplishment.

Posted by: BerkeleyBW | June 28, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, since her test scores, GPA, rank and underwear size weren't mentioned in the 84-word introduction to the interview, it OBVIOUSLY must mean they were sub-par.

I'm afraid this is still the old racist America, where by default if you're a minority, you're assumed to be unqualified until you prove otherwise.

Posted by: hainish | June 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

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