Local students accepted to Duke University
Two seniors at Yuma Catholic High School were recently notified that they were included in the group of 753 students that had been accepted to Duke University through their Early Decision program.
According to Duke University, Jennifer Alspach and Alex Deckey were two of 2,540 students that applied through the Early Decision program, the second-largest number recorded for the school.
Alspach, 18, said that getting accepted into Duke was really a dream come true for her.
“I knew the chances and everything like that, and when I checked online I was preparing myself for getting rejected but then I got in,” she said. “As I was reading the acceptance email, I just thought about all the people who didn't get accepted and how easily I could have been one of them. It's just awesome that they found something awesome in me that they liked.”
Because she had a calculus test the next day, she waited until the day after the admission email was sent out to make sure that it didn't affect her exam.
“Right before I looked at it I was preparing myself because I knew my chances, but when I opened the email the first thing I saw was ‘Duke University is now your university' and I just could not believe it,” she said. “I told my mom right away and I was jumping up and down. My parents were really excited.”
Thanks to scholarships and other student aid, Alspach said that she will only have to pay $2,000 per year out of pocket and she is working to continue to apply for scholarships to get the remaining amount covered. Tuition is $60,000 per year, which also includes room and board.
After living in Yuma her whole life, Alspach said that she knows it will be a transition to move to Durham, N.C., to attend Duke.
“It's going to be hard because I haven't really been away from home that much but...I know that there are good things out there waiting for me.”
Alspach plans to major in environmental science. At Yuma Catholic she currently has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the Interact Club, National Honors Society and the Yuma County Justice Board. She also enjoys piano, art and creative writing.
“Jennifer's academic prowess is undeniable,” said Yuma Catholic counselor Terra Martinez. “She has consistently challenged herself each year through completing the most rigorous course load available. Jennifer's academics have always been one of her top priorities in her life...She knows the value of hard work and perseverance, two qualities necessary for success at the post secondary level. Jennifer's potential for success is abundant.”
Deckey, 18, said that around the time the decision emails were released, he was in his calculus class working on an extra assignment, waiting for the clock to tick 4 p.m.
“It was definitely really stressful, it was probably the longest hour of my life,” he said.
After he finally received the email, he said that it was probably the best feeling in his life thus far.
“I was just so overwhelmed,” Deckey said. “I was really happy because it took so much weight off my shoulders from having to apply to other colleges and worry about which ones I get into and having to make that decision. It just made it really easy for me, and it put me in a place where I know I want to be.”
He said that he decided to apply early to Duke because after touring various colleges, that one came out on top for him. Between the campus programs, the school spirit and the beautiful campus, he noted that his campus visit really made a big impression.
“It just felt right over all the other colleges that I visited,” he said.
He noted that now that he has finished with his application, he can continue to work on applying for scholarships.
“That's the next step for me,” he said.
Deckey noted that his parents were happy to hear that he had been accepted.
“They were going through this process just as much as I was, they helped me try to figure out what to write, it's definitely been quite the process,” he said.
Deckey said that he also was grateful for the assistance of Martinez, also his school counselor, who worked with him to make sure his applications were filled out correctly.
“She worked with me for a few weeks during our lunch period to get my Duke application finished,” he said. “It was quite the dramatic event, when I had to submit my early application in, because it was kind of sending something away that you could never take back and if you found a mistake later on you'd be dreading it for a while.”
Deckey said that he plans to go into biology to help him reach his goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon in the future.
As both of his parents are physicians in the Yuma community, he said that they always shed a good light on the profession as a viable career choice for him.
“I like how both my parents work to help people, and that's something that I've always worked to do during my high school career,” he said.
At Yuma Catholic he currently has a 4.0 GPA and played football all four years as well as hockey and is also the student council vice president, member of the National Honors Society.
“I am impressed by Alex's ability to set high expectations and then methodically design and coordinate a plan of action to exceed, what sometimes appear to be almost impossible expectations,” said Martinez. “Alex accomplishes this with poise and determination. I know that he will continue to employ the skills that he has continuously honed and developed at the post-secondary level throughout his life.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.