The e-mail came late at night on March 30. With shaking hands, senior Nicole Sarvis clicked open the file, holding her breath. In shock after the first few words and unable to finish reading it herself, Sarvis called her mom in to the room to make sure she was not going crazy.“The first few words were ‘I am pleased,’ and I stopped at pleased… because pleased is a good thing,” Sarvis said. “I burst in to tears because I thought I must be dreaming.”
This is the once in a lifetime moment Sarvis experienced after opening her acceptance e-mail to Harvard University.
With an acceptance rate of 6.9 percent in 2010, Harvard invites only the best of the best to join its prestigious student body each year. A Harvard student must have not only brains but also a resume including extracurricular activities, community involvement, and awards.
As a member of three high school sports teams, a volunteer at a local hospital, the secretary and treasurer of Student Government, an employee at swim and volleyball clubs, and a 4.3 GPA, Sarvis fit the bill for admission to Harvard.
Sarvis has been focusing on her education since elementary school, and her hard work has finally paid off.
Those close to Sarvis know how hard she has worked her entire life in order to get in to her dream school. Assistant principal Deb Boyer said that Sarvis has a solid foundation behind her that will help in her future.
“She has grown and matured so much from her freshman year to her senior year,” Boyer said. “And her outlook and her actions show that.”
Boyer said that Sarvis has something which sets her apart from other applicants and goes above and beyond her impressive grades and extra activities.
“Highly selective colleges are looking for people who are well rounded in terms of being part of a school community, showing commitment, leadership, and showing through their actions either in clubs or service organizations that they have a commitment to the world at large and an understanding that there is a world outside of the four walls of their high school,” Boyer said. “Nicole’s outstanding characteristic that set her apart from other applicants is her character itself.”
Sarvis has a resume which includes many school activities, including membership in the National Honor Society, president of Volunteer Africa, head chair of Field Day, chair of the March Committee, chair of the Prom Committee, member of the Diversity Club, Forensics Team and Interact Club, and has helped with Student Council fundraising.
Sarvis also participates in community activities. She volunteers at Beaumont Hospital, and tutors elementary school children, as well as working at Forest Hills Swim Club, Legacy Volleyball Club, and as a nanny.
As a result of her involvement, Sarvis has won awards and honors to commemorate her hard work. She won the Scholar Athlete Award, an Excellence in Education Award sponsored by the Oakland Press and Oakland Schools, and is an AP Scholar.
Sarvis’ counselor Rebecca Rossen said that she has all of the qualities which a Harvard caliber student must possess.
“She is such a diligent, conscientious student,” Rossen said. “She asks the right questions, she’s always on the right track and I’m just so proud of her.”
Rossen says that it was a combination of Sarvis’ grades and extracurricular activities that helped grant her admission to Harvard.
“All those things she has participated in have helped her grow as an individual and she was probably able to convey that message to Harvard,” Rossen said. “Yes, she is a great student, but she has also been able to balance all of these things and all of the things she has been involved in have been so special to her.”
Caroline Held, a good friend of Sarvis, said that by being involved in so many activities Sarvis has made lasting friendships with all different groups of people.
“Nicole always works hard and puts her schoolwork first,” Held said. “But she doesn’t let that take away from her social life.”
Sarvis said that even in middle school, if she got any grade lower than an A, she would freak out, wanting to do better. She wanted to perform at her best and make sure all of the bases were covered in terms of her education so that she would be prepared for her future.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I always knew that my education was my top priority,” Sarvis said. “I thought it was kind of farfetched but I put myself out there and I applied to the best schools because that is what I wanted, and by some miracle I got accepted.”
Upon finding out her decision, Sarvis could not grasp the reality that she was accepted to what some consider to be the most prestigious institution in the country.
“I didn’t sleep the whole night because I was afraid if I went to sleep it wouldn’t be real,” Sarvis said.