Southwest student accepted to Harvard
March 16, 2016
A Southwest senior’s longtime dream was realized this week when he got the call he’d been hoping for: confirmation that he had been accepted to Harvard University starting in Fall 2016.
Alejandro (Alex) Jimenez, of Washburn, was riding in the car was his family when he got the call. “I received a call from a Boston, Massachusetts, number, and I was about to hang up because I thought it was a telemarketer. But I’m really glad I didn’t. When I heard ‘congratulations’ my heart just dropped. It was amazing.”
Each of his family members had different reactions to the news. “My father teared up. Bryan [my brother] and Rachel [my sister] were shocked. I called my mother and she didn’t seem so surprised. She said, ‘Yeah, I kind of expected it.’”
However, Alex wasn’t quite so sure at first. He said, “The immediate reaction was to thank her profusely and then hang up so that I could tell my family because they didn’t know what was going on at the time. I actually called her back to make sure it wasn’t a prank. I didn’t tell her that; I told her I was sorry that I was flustered and asked to get some more information. But it was real.”
It took a lot of work and long hours of studying to get Alex where he is. His current weighted GPA is a 4.38.
“He worked very, very hard. It’s unbelievable how hard he worked. He’s been dreaming about this since he was a little kid,” Alex’s father, Prudencio, said.
He also shared a story about Alex from when he was young. “We went to the bank with the money we got from picking up walnuts, and when we got there, the woman asked what he wanted to do with all of the money. He told her, ‘I want to put it in savings so I can go to Harvard.’ That was when he was just a little kid.”
His father added, “He’s had this dream since he was little. It was one of his dreams, and they’re going to pay a full-ride. They’re going to pay everything.
“He missed out on a lot because he was studying. I told him to take time off, to not work so hard and have some fun, but it’s who he is.”
Because it was Alex’s dream, his father took him to visit the campus four years ago. As a truck driver, he requested a load to Massachusetts. While there, Alex said that is when he really knew he wanted to go there.
“I fell in love with the atmosphere. The people were really welcoming and nice. It was academically stimulating. The people were really intelligent. There is also a strong LDS community in Cambridge, so I will be received by people when I get to the university,” Alex said.
His parents instilled in him the need for education, and he set his goals high because of it. He said, “My parents stressed the importance of education. Education is priceless because he was high school educated. They always wanted me to go to Harvard if that’s what I wanted.”
Learning of the news, Alex shared it with one of his more influential teachers. He said, “I called a very close teacher, Mr. Brandon Burns, and he was so excited he gave me advice about what to do next. He helped me along the way. I think, because of him, I was able to be a better writer and that’s part of the reason I got accepted to Harvard. All through my life people told me that my writing was great, but he was the first one to critique my writing, and I was actually able to improve.”
In an interview, Burns said, “When I first met Alex, I knew that he was going to do great things in the world. His drive for success and unrelenting motivation to be the best in his endeavors inspires those around him. Faith is an integral part of Alex’s character, and this leads him to treat others with fairness, kindness, and empathy. I have never heard Alex speak negatively about anyone; his faith guides him away from judgment and toward service and a genuine interest in others. My life has been enriched from getting to know Alex over the past three years.”
As more information came out, Alex found out that he had received a likely letter from the university. Meaning he was one of 100 applicants that was contacted first because of their interest in him. He said, “Essentially, she was saying that the likely letter was the first round of sending out notifications, so I’m grateful that I was able to know earlier and have this knowledge before so that I could take a step back and see what options I have now.”
Alex has also been accepted to Washington University, University of North Carolina, Chappell Hill, Brigham Young University and Drury. “I’m glad to have options, but I’m going to Harvard,” he laughed.
His biology teacher, Ms. Jennifer Thornton, said, “Alex is a very dedicated and focused young man who goes above and beyond what is asked of him. Over the past four years, I have watched him mature and grow into a respectful, responsible and successful young man. We are all so very proud of him and his accomplishments.”
Another teacher, Ms. Dianna Gaylen, said, “Discussing themes in class with Alex is challenging and engaging because of his perspectives and insight. As a teacher, I have to work harder than I ever have before, because such a great mind deserves the best I can possibly provide.
She added, “I simply cannot wait to see the ways Alex Jimenez will change our world for the better. He and other Southwest students like him give me great hope for the future of our country.”
A lot of people are pulling for Alex and proud of his dedication to make it to where he is. This fall, Alex will attend Harvard with his tuition paid for because of the dedication and perseverance he showed. Alex plans to take two years off for an LDS mission trip after his freshman year, but will return to campus after.
He plans to pursue a law degree in civil rights.
Alex said, “I’m still waking up from a dream.”