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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Introducing the Class of 2013: Scott ‘13, Cory ‘13, Edner ‘13, Jeremy ‘13, and Bee ‘13 by Matt McGann '00

The penultimate in a nine-part series of articles about the incoming MIT class.

With Orientation set to begin for the new MIT freshmen this weekend, we are nearing the end of our series Introducing the Class of 2013.

An important note for today: All of MIT’s financial aid is based on financial need; there are no merit scholarships. Reporters are often confused about this.

Without further ado, here they are, as written about by members of their local media: Scott ’13, Cory ’13, Edner ’13, Jeremy ’13, and Bee ’13.

Project STEEM alumni accepted to MIT this fall
By Mary Lou Hazal, A&M-Commerce News
Jun 29, 2009

ACCEPTED TO MIT – Cory Ward, left, 2009 valedictorian of Yantis High School, and Scott Landers, 2009 valedictorian of Chisum High School and Paris Junior College graduate, have been accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall. This summer they are mentors in Project STEEM, a program at Texas A&M University-Commerce for middle school students, high school students, and teachers that focuses on math, science, technology, and engineering. Ward and Landers attended Project STEEM as high school students in 2007. (A&M-Commerce photo/Jared Horn)

COMMERCE, Texas – Cory Ward of Yantis and Scott Landers of Cooper, Project STEEM mentors at Texas A&M University-Commerce, are headed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall.

Ward, 2009 valedictorian of Yantis High School in Wood County, and Landers, 2009 valedictorian of Chisum High School in Lamar County near Paris, have been awarded the scholarships* needed to attend this elite Northeastern university.

Ward and Landers, who attended the 2007 Project STEEM camp on math, science, technology, and engineering to Northeast Texas rural middle school and high school students and teachers, became friends and will be roommates at MIT.

In addition to helping with the Infinity camp in June, which is for high achieving high school students from rural schools, the two are enrolled in an independent studies math class at A&M-Commerce taught by department head Rick Kreminski.

Ward and Landers have both taken college courses as high school students. Landers is now a graduate of Paris Junior College.

Both students said they learned a great deal attending the Project STEEM camp. “It was really neat. It showed us stuff we hadn’t seen and won’t see until college,” Landers commented.

Funded in 2007 by a $1.5 million grant from the Greater Texas Foundation, Project STEEM is geared to exposing students in rural Northeast Texas to technical fields and encouraging them to attend college.

“We are very proud of Cory Ward and Scott Landers for being accepted to MIT,” said Project STEEM director Kerri O’Connor.

A graduate of MIT, Kreminski is also proud of Cory and Scott.

“They are both good-natured, friendly, helpful, smart, talented, mature, highly motivated and very focused individuals with a great deal of determination and a good sense of humor,” he said.

“I was very happy to write letters of recommendation for them for MIT, and I know that they will do well. They both seem to have a genuine hunger for math and science that runs a little deeper than in many of the other kids that I have interviewed for MIT, and I wish them the best of luck and hope that they stay in touch,” Kreminski continued.

New to the US, he blazed a path
MIT-bound math whiz is latest triumph for O’Bryant
By James Vaznis
Globe Staff / June 7, 2009

Edner Paul, a Haitian immigrant and John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science student, has a full scholarship* to MIT. Edner Paul, a Haitian immigrant and John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science student, has a full scholarship to MIT. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

He arrived in Boston barely able to speak or write in English, but Edner Paul did not allow that to stand in his way.

In his four short years in the United States, this 16-year-old whiz kid from Haiti accomplished one feat after another. He mastered the English language within months and soon after passed a rigorous admission exam to the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. On Friday, he will graduate as valedictorian with a full scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His success is as much a story about new immigrants as it is a tale about the re-emergence of the O’Bryant. Paul’s admission to MIT follows that of two O’Bryant graduates last year. They are the first crop of students from that school to attend MIT in recent memory, said MIT and Boston school officials.

While O’Bryant is one of three public exam schools in Boston, it often has existed in the shadows of the better known and tradition-steeped Boston Latin School and Boston Latin Academy. Some consider Boston Latin School – the most highly-coveted exam school by students, founded almost 400 years ago – the “Harvard” of Boston schools. About two dozen Boston Latin School graduates each year head to Harvard.

“It would be fun if O’Bryant became the MIT of the Boston schools,” said Ed Moriarty, an instructor at MIT’s Edgerton Center who has worked with the O’Bryant since 2003.

“Edner will become part of the inspiration,” he said, “for other O’Bryant students to pursue MIT.”

Paul said he did not even know MIT existed when he arrived here four years ago.

“In ninth grade, I only heard about Harvard because we took a field trip there,” said Paul, who spent his freshman year at Madison Park High School, where a little more than half the students earn diplomas within four years.

While growing up in St. Marc, a port city in Haiti, Paul decided as a fourth-grader to devote himself to school. At that time, he didn’t crack the top 20 percent of his class. It bothered him when teachers rewarded the top students with prizes, feeling he was letting his mother down. She never graduated from high school and wanted better for her children. So Paul hit the books.

He hasn’t stopped studying since.

When Paul arrived here in March 2005 as an eighth-grader, Boston school officials didn’t know what to expect. They placed him in a special program that teaches new immigrants how to speak English. In his spare time, he would listen to cassette tapes on pronunciations.

A teacher at Madison Park High discovered his gift for math and science in the fall of ninth grade. He had been placed in an algebra class but could handle precalculus. Paul soon began studying for the O’Bryant admission exam.

Entering O’Bryant at the start of his 10th-grade year marked a major turning point for Paul’s education. He arrived as the school was ramping up the academic rigor, including the cementing of stronger relationships with MIT and other institutions such as the Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Longwood Medical and Academic Area.

At the school, which is located on Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury near Madison Park High, Paul has impressed teachers, not just in math and science, but in English, too.

“He’s kind of like a renaissance man,” said Crystal Coy-Gonfa, his English teacher, who taught Paul this year in her Advanced Placement literature and composition course and was surprised to find out he was also a poet. “Someone pointed him out as a brilliant scientist, but I didn’t know he had this other side to him.

“He definitely has a flair for figurative language and the presentation of the spoken word,” she added. “He has sort of a romantic style.”

When Paul needs a break from school work, he recharges his batteries writing poetry. (He also plays soccer.)

“Most of them are love poems,” Paul explained to a visitor at his Hyde Park home last week while showing a poem titled “My Angel.”

“People think it’s about a lady,” he said. “It’s really about nature.”

Paul’s creative side fits nicely with the revamping of O’Bryant’s math and science programs, which emphasizes learning by doing projects and solving problems, school staff said. For instance, in an Advanced Placement physics class this year, Paul converted a computer document scanner into a camera.

Outside the O’Bryant, Paul took advantage of other educational programs, such as spending a summer two years ago at Georgetown University and last summer at MIT. He also participated in a special program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

“He’s hard-working, very conscientious,” said Steve Fernandez, his AP physics teacher and an MIT graduate. “He’s concerned about understanding the material – not just getting the right answer, but understanding how to do it.”

MIT was Paul’s first choice. His scholarship is valued at $50,000 a year. Paul, who applied and was accepted to three other colleges, tapped a competitive national nonprofit program, QuestBridge, which helps bright low-income students get into top-tier colleges.

Paul credits some of his success to O’Bryant, hard work, and his mother. “I can’t give up,” Paul said. “I just have to keep working hard.”

His mother, taking a break from housework one morning last week, smiled proudly when asked about her son’s journey to MIT. She then spoke in Creole to Paul, who then translated for her. “It’s a pleasure for her because not everyone gets an opportunity to go,” Paul said.

Joel Stembridge, O’Bryant headmaster, predicts more students will get into MIT in the coming years, especially as they advance through the school’s new engineering program. He hopes it will help attract younger students in the district to O’Bryant.

“If you ask most students now, they probably didn’t select the O’Bryant as their first choice or they didn’t come here for the math and science programs,” Stembridge said. “The goal is that students will eventually choose us first because they are interested in math and science. We are not there yet but getting there.”

For now many are savoring the victory of students like Paul. “It’s good when we have a success story like Edner’s,” Fernandez said. “It shows we are doing something right.”

Gilman Graduate Earns Full Scholarship to M.I.T.
Jun 8, 2009, 19:29

Jeremy Dalcin is setting quite an example for his siblings. The oldest of five children, Jeremy will graduate from Gilman School (an independent day school in Baltimore, MD) this month and head off to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge on a full academic scholarship, worth more than $52,000 a year*.

M.I.T. was the computer-guru’s top choice for college. He also applied to Princeton, Cornell, Haverford College, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and The Johns Hopkins University, among others. All would have been great schools, he says, but he held out hope for M.I.T.

“When the acceptance from UMBC came really early I was like, ‘That’s a good sign,'” says Jeremy, 18. “Then when Cornell came, I said ‘OK, I’m probably going here.’ So when M.I.T.’s letter came, that was groundbreaking.”

As an adolescent at his neighborhood public school, Pikesville Middle, Jeremy never imagined himself attending such a prestigious college. In fact, he never imagined himself going to Gilman. “I never really thought about private schools because I knewGilman Graduate Earns Full Scholarship to M.I.T. how few scholarships they give out,” he says. “Without B.E.S.T.,[Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust] I would have not gone to a private school.”

At Gilman, Jeremy was able to “to find what really challenged me and try my best to excel in it. I was given lots of opportunities to find my passion at Gilman.” His passions, he discovered, are math and science – and more specifically, computer science. “Programming is extremely fun,” Jeremy says. “Creating your own software and testing that out against other creations is really fun.”

Jeremy leaves June 28th for a summer program at M.I.T, where he will begin early his journey into the high-tech world of programming. His mother, Rahel Mamo, will miss him not only because he was a good student and a friend to her, but also because Jeremy was always so helpful with his four siblings.

“I’m just so proud of him. He’s such a nice kid,” says Mamo. “I just hope the others follow his example.”

The B.E.S.T. annual fund – which raises money to help support Scholars, programs, member schools and the organization’s operating expenses – wraps up June 30th.

If you are interested in supporting B.E.S.T., please click here or go to to donate online.

No laughing matter
East grad hard at work at MIT
By Charles Menchaca
Wausau Daily Herald
August 18, 2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Bee Vang decided to apply to Massachusetts Institute of Technology last year as a joke, saying he didn’t expect to be offered admission.

He was wrong.

Vang, 19, not only was accepted to MIT, he received enough scholarships to cover the $37,000 annual tuition*. The Wausau East High School graduate has spent most of his summer at the school in a pre-freshman program.

Vang said his summer program is much more rigorous than he expected — so much so that he has spent two to three hours on homework five nights a week since June 28.

Despite the time commitment, Vang said he is ready to give it his all so he can pursue a career in robotics. Studying at one of the top schools in the country can only help, he said.

“It’s an international name — you can say (MIT) anywhere in the world and people know what you are talking about,” Vang said. “It will also bring more job opportunities.”

Vang had his sights set on Milwaukee School of Engineering before he learned more about MIT’s academic programs. Vang’s two older brothers, Kong and Vai, attended college in Milwaukee.

Vang’s father, Nhia Vang, said he doesn’t mind the physical distance between himself and his son as long as it’s in the name of education.

Nhia Vang, 45, said he is proud of everything Bee has accomplished. Bee serves as a role model for his five younger siblings, his father said.

Bee Vang plans to keep part of his life in Wisconsin alive. During his senior year at East he wrestled at 125 pounds and finished with a 26-8 record. He also competed during his freshman, sophomore and juniors years. He will wrestle competitively or with a campus wrestling club while in Massachusetts.

Vang’s involvement with athletics taught him discipline and focus, said Tom Rocheleau, a retired Wausau East math teacher.

“The thing that impressed me the most about him was that he really was kind of immune to the peer pressure,” Rocheleau said. “He set his goals and he was very strict with himself.”

6 responses to “Introducing the Class of 2013: Scott ‘13, Cory ‘13, Edner ‘13, Jeremy ‘13, and Bee ‘13”

  1. '09 Parent says:

    I think some clarification is needed regarding scholarships. MIT does not offer academic scholarships. Scholarships are based on economic need only. Correct, Matt? (Oh, and btw, first)

  2. ’09 Parent — you are correct, though Matt already made that clarification at the beginning of the entry.

    Matt, I’m not feeling the love here. raspberry

  3. Mak says:

    Hi Matt…..

    I want to ask you that , my brother made an account on my mit with my name and details, so if i create a new account with different username, will it create any trouble to you guys getting my forms and other information…………………………

  4. Justin says:

    Sorry to bother, Matt.

    I registered for a MyMit account this year and would like to change my ‘Year of Entry’ to 2015. Will that option be available next year? It only allows me to check 2014.

  5. navdeep says:

    i’m really starting to feel that most of the admitted applicants are class valedictorians