Harvard University president encourages local students to apply

MIAMI (WSVN) - The president of an Ivy League university spoke at a South Florida high school to encourage students to go to college and reach for their highest endeavors.

Harvard University president Drew Faust is focusing on students in South Florida. “First, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to say, ‘I am going to college,'” Faust said.

She, along with several Harvard alumni from South Florida, spent the day at Miami Northwestern Senior High School, Thursday.

They are trying to break down any kind of preconceived notion that schools like Harvard are unaffordable. “I’m just like you. I mean, I grew up in the housing projects here in Liberty City, that my parents had no money to pay for college,” said Miami Northwestern alumni and Harvard graduate Zarifa Brown, “but because I put my head down and did what I needed to do academically, I was able to go to Brown [University] for undergrad and went on to Harvard Law School.”

“If they’re talented students who think that they can’t afford Harvard, we want them to know we’re interested in them. We hope that they’re thinking about us,” Faust said.

Shaunte Butler graduated from Miami Northwestern in 2010 and then graduated from Harvard in 2014. She is now serving as an example for students who were in her shoes, just a few years ago.

“I want to show them that people from this community can and do have the ability to go to colleges like Harvard,” Butler said.

This is the first time a Harvard University president has visited Miami Northwestern. Students who attended the talk said it reaffirmed that hard work and dedication pays off, and it inspired them to add Ivy League schools to their college list.

“I’m proud to say that they actually pay attention to us, and we all have the opportunity, no matter where we come from,” said Miami Northwestern student Taneacha Brown.

Faust is the first woman to serve as president at Harvard, which was founded back in the 1600s. It’s an accomplishment that allows her to tell students firsthand that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

“We want to have people think, ‘I can do that.’ A woman does that, a minority does that, someone like me does that,” Faust said. “That’s the message I want to send: Imagine yourself there. That’s the first step to getting there.”

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