Leslie Arroyo: Harvard Bound & Proud


Leslie Arroyo poses with her Harvard shirt as she makes the final decision to attend Harvard University!

Stacy Vazquez, Journalist

This March, senior Leslie Arroyo became the first University Preparatory student to have been accepted into Harvard University. Harvard is one of the eight Ivy-League schools that are seemingly impossible to get into. Harvard, for example, has an acceptance rate of 5.2%.

According to Harvard, out of the forty-two thousand applicants for the Class of ’22, only about thousand are actually accepted. Therefore, the competition  for Class of ’23, Leslie’s graduating class, would definitely be extreme when it came to this college.

After her acceptance to the many prestigious colleges were announced, many wondered, “Who is the girl, that got into Harvard?”

Leslie Arroyo is currently a senior and has been attending University Preparatory since she was in seventh grade. Leslie plans on majoring in Political Science. “My dream is to become an immigration attorney and political science will help me learn about law and politics.” She is really interested in it because it brings her a sense of being able to help and defend the people.

Ivy Leagues, being competitive universities, were definitely not easy to get into and required a lot of time, effort, and hard work from Leslie. She was extremely involved. She is the president of Girl Up, part of the Victorville Youth Council, used to be in Key Club, Interact Club, and also used to be in Spanish Club. Those are the only clubs that she could recall participating in, meaning that she was probably involved in a few more.

She is dedicated because she is passionate about her dream. Leslie’s dream of becoming an immigration attorney started a few years back, “I think that came around in the last few years. It all started when I got involved with Girl Up,” she stated. Girl Up is a club focusing on empowering young women into following their dreams, and making a change. Later on, she had the chance to meet with Paul Cook, and ended up traveling to Washington D.C.  

Leslie also attended a three-week summer program at George Washington University in D.C. The program was called “Caminos Al Futuro,” and it was aimed towards juniors that have made, or are planning to make, an impact in the Latino and Hispanic community. According to George Washington University, the program is very selective, and fully funded. There she met an immigration attorney named Paulina. She states that her experiences in D.C. “Ignited my desire to be involved with politics and law.”

She didn’t stop there. She also mentions traveling to Georgia for a S.T.E.M Program called WISCI girls stem program. WiSci is a camp that focuses on balancing genders in the S.T.E.M fields. In the camp, you are open to many opportunities of learning and growth in those fields.

With Girl Up, Leslie also helped a law get passed called, “Protecting girls access to education in vulnerable settings”. This law focuses on helping girls in unfortunate settings by giving the access to primary and secondary education. The law was officially passed and became the public law no: 115 in January, 2019.

However, the point of all her dedication is not just attending a famous college, she wanted to make sure she was choosing the right place for her. In fact, Leslie admits that she wasn’t expecting anything from these schools but, to her surprise, in the mail came the many acceptance letters from multiple Ivy Leagues.

“College admissions are very complex. When it comes to Harvard, or any big schools, what could set anybody apart should be extracurriculars and writing,” she commented.

When asked what her reaction was when she found out about her admission, she mentioned that she found it very funny because she actually got the call ahead of time. She states that she was in a meeting for the Victorville Council for Youth. She missed a call from Cambridge and figured it was probably Harvard. At first, she thought they were just calling her for another interview, but was then informed that they really liked her college application and that she’d receive her formal admission in March. She was extremely surprised, and even admitted to tearing up a bit.

Even though Leslie Arroyo was the first to be accepted into Harvard, she is not the first University Preparatory student to be admitted into an Ivy League. Last year, Phong Nyugen and Tyson Reed also got into Ivy League schools. Phong was accepted and is currently attending Brown University in Rhode Island, and Tyson is attending Cornell University.

Since there were so many colleges to choose from, Leslie made the decision to take into consideration every little thing she could so she could narrow down her decision. The offers made from colleges were amazing, but she was almost 100% sure she will be choosing Harvard. After careful reviewing, Leslie did end up choosing Harvard as the school she would be attending after high school.

In the end, college applications come down to what you have to show, and that factor that makes you different from everybody else. Getting into a famous college doesn’t ensure your success, so it shouldn’t be your priority.

Just be passionate, as Leslie encourages, “I just want to say to never doubt yourself, and never think that you don’t have a chance to to get into schools. Admissions are very complex. Some kids think ‘I don’t have the grades’, ‘I don’t have the SAT scores’. I would just recommend in getting involved in something you are really passionate about. Just be passionate about something, and get yourself prepared for your essays.”