‘Still completely unreal’: CamSur student shares journey before Harvard acceptance

April 26, 2023 - 11:39 AM
Cedric Cortez_Leni Robredo
Cedric Cortez Jr. in this photo originally posted on his Facebook account and reposted by Pilipino Star Ngayon Digital on its page; Former vice president Leni Robredo with Cortez in this photo on her Facebook account (psngayondigital/Facebook via cedriccortezjr; leni.robredo/Facebook)

A young student from Camarines Sur was accepted in one of the longest-running prestigious universities in the world.

Cedric Cortez Jr., a senior high student at the Ateneo de Naga University, has dreamt of getting into an Ivy League school since tenth grade.

According to him, he spent two years of his life “binging countless Ivy decisions reaction videos, moon over the ‘S’ essay on TikTok, [and] daydream about the Harvard [or] Yale life.”

The student referred to two Ivy League schools — Harvard University and Yale University.

Cortez’s preparation also includes planning out his senior high school “in order to fill out my resume with all the extracurriculars I could stomach, read up on philosophy, try to be as perfectionist as possible, and actually find myself in the middle of it all.”

He revealed that he took online courses at Harvard “just to be able to have a taste of what learning there is like.”

Cortez said he sent applications to three of his most sought-after universities, namely the University of the Philippines, Harvard, and New York University.

He did not expect to get into Harvard, adding that an educational consultant site even rated him as “average” in the Harvard application pool.

The Pinoy student admitted that he considered his “S” essay as his “trump card” and “last beacon of hope” as it was something he “truly” believed would show the admissions who he was and why he deserved a spot.

This is the Harvard Supplemental Essay, an additional paper that applicants can pass if they feel their college application forms “do not provide sufficient opportunity” to convey important information about themselves or their accomplishments.

They can choose one among the several prompts as stated on the application, or they can write on a topic of their choice.

Cortez shared his own essay which he said got him into the prestigious university. It was about death and decaying and how he sees it as a “source of rebirth” instead of the end.

Cortez ended his Facebook post by saying that he has “a lot of thinking to do for the next few months” following his acceptance to one of the most prestigious institutions.

“Whatever happens, know I believe in my heart that it was the best decision I could possibly make. And if you’ll take one piece of advice from me, it’s that you should stay weird and never ever let people turn you into something you’re not. You are you,” he added.

His impressive feat caught the attention of former vice president Leni Robredo, a fellow Camarines Sur local, who paid him a visit on Tuesday, April 25.

She said that she was “so impressed, not just by his brilliance, but his quiet demeanor and his humility.”

“Meet Cedric Tuy Cortez, Jr, one of the [four] Filipinos who got accepted at Harvard College next school year. No mean feat, considering that Harvard had 56,937 applicants this year and only accepted 3.4% of them,” Robredo said.

“Praying with him for wisdom and guidance as he makes his decision this week. Told him that we are very proud of him and that the small Filipino community in Harvard is excitedly waiting for him,” she added.

One of Robredo’s daughters, Tricia, is studying at the same institution.

Tricia was previously accepted at the Harvard Medical School’s Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery.

ALSO READ: Tricia Robredo issues reminder on ‘overglorified’ productivity as work takes toll on health

The two-year program provides training in research, program design, and management that students need “to become leaders in the emerging field of global health delivery.”

Harvard University is one of the world’s longest-running, highest-ranking schools boasting state-of-the-art resources, world-renowned faculty members, and individualized instruction.

It has an unparalleled reputation when it comes to academic excellence and intellectual prestige.