Guyanese-born Kelly Hyles, 17, achieved a remarkable accomplishment, getting accepted into all eight IvyKelly HylesLeagues colleges in the US, as well as 13 other schools.While she is a straight A student, she is the first to admit that getting into so many schools didn’t come without a lot of hard work.Though she grew up in Queens, New York, Hyles spent the first decade of her life in a small village called Vryheid’s Lust, on the East Coast of Guyana.“They were a bit more serious about school,” said Hyles of children from her village. “Teachers are allowed to beat you – it wasn’t anything severe, but it keeps kids in check.” She moved to the US when she was 11.Hyles lives with her mother, who has set an example of what hard work looks like. Her mom works two jobs – she’s a home aide and a certified nursing assistant.Hyles commutes an hour and a half every day to the High School for Math, Science and Engineering in Harlem; one of New York’s nine specialised high schools.Hyles is one of less than two dozen black students in her senior class, which has more than 130 people. It’s a common theme throughout New York City’s specialised high schools – a fact she found troubling.“I am convinced that the decrease is not due to intellectual aptitude, but to lack of preparation and confidence,” she wrote in one her personal statements.So she did something about it. Hyles partnered with the DREAM programme, which prepares students for the Specialised High School Admissions Test. For three summers, she spent every weekday mentoring students at her former Brooklyn middle school.When Hyles took the SAT for the first time in May 2015, she wasn’t satisfied with the results. She channelled that energy into studying more. A classmate gave her text books he no longer needed.“My biggest sacrifice was sleep,” she said, adding that she averages about five hours a night. “Sometimes, I wanted to sleep late or go to the movies or a party with my friends, but I had to prioritise.” Hyles said she knew her mother wouldn’t have enough money to put her through school.“I knew I had to at least get academic scholarships, if not need-based scholarships,” she said, adding that college application fees were waved due to her financial standing.Being a great student isn’t enough, though. “I knew I needed to be well-rounded,” said Hyles, who is also a cheerleader and a dancer. “I heard stories of people that made amazing grades that didn’t get into the colleges they wanted.”So Hyles and two other students started a Black Student Union at her high school in 2014. “There were no clubs in which students could voice their outrage,” she wrote in one of her favourite college essays about the unrest after the shootings of unarmed black teens.The group hosts weekly meetings to discuss social issues and black “excellence.”Hyles, who was recently named a Ron Brown Scholar, said she was well aware of the negative stigmas ahead of her – she’s black and a woman.Instead of letting those beliefs win, she embraced things like her skin colour and her kinky hair. Hyles added that moving to a new country at a young age “was a culture shock,” but it taught her to be adaptable.She said she waved at a woman and said “Good afternoon, auntie” while riding her bike when she first moved to the US. That’s the typical greeting in Guyana, but not so in Queens. “She looked at me like I was crazy.”All of this has prepared her for wherever she lands. Hyles applied to 22 schools and was waitlisted only at Stanford University. She said that while Harvard has been her dream school, she’s considering all of her options.“Honestly, I’ve had so many changes in my life I feel like I can adapt to fit in anywhere,” she said.
PICO RIVERA – At a Mass at St. Hilary Catholic Church, graying war veterans and friends and relatives knelt and prayed Friday for U.S. Army Sgt. Arthur A. Mora Jr. and the two soldiers who died with him in Iraq. “They are our brothers who went through baptism by fire. It is important for us to be here today,” said Richard Briones, a Korean War veteran from Pico Rivera. Mora, 23, was killed Oct. 19 when his patrol vehicle was hit by enemy fire in Balad, Iraq. Two fellow soldiers, Army Spc. Russell Nahvi, 24, of Texas, and Army Pfc. Jose E. Rosario, 20, of St. Croix, died with him. Mora had been in Iraq since July and hoped to be home in December to celebrate the holidays with his wife and three children, including a son who was born Oct. 11. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week During Friday’s solemn Mass, attended by close to 200 people, Mora’s family led the congregation in prayer. The Rev. George Madella provided words of comfort to Mora’s mother, Sylvia Mora, and his two sisters and brother. “This is my first Mass for soldiers who were in Iraq,” Madella said. “When I saw the age of the soldiers and realized they were only in their 20s and had sacrificed so much, I thought they had sacrified their lives for a greater cause. “They are people with a lot of courage who gave their lives, and we must remember it is not important how many years we have lived. What is important is how we live our lives.” Mora was based at Fort Stewart, Ga., and was a member of the Army’s 5th Squadron, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He was buried Oct. 29 at Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio, where his wife and three children live. Family members said it was gratifying to have so many tributes paid to Mora, a 2000 El Rancho High School graduate, who joined the Army with his mother’s permission in his senior year. “In Perrysburg, it was so nice, so beautiful,” Sylvia Mora said Friday. “There was an honor guard, people on the sidewalks waving flags, and policemen, firemen and veterans saluting him. “Now here, with a lot of family and friends, we are honoring him again so everyone can see what kind of person he was.” Valerie Hernandez, Mora’s cousin, said she would have preferred that the young man who was always happy and hugging people had come home to his family. But the pride she felt made her loss easier, she said. “He used to like cleaning up at the American Legion on Durfee and being around veterans,” she said. “He had a passion for this and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.” Mora is the third soldier from the Whittier area to die in Afghanistan or Iraq. Pfc. Joseph Cruz, 22, of Whittier was killed Oct. 15 in Bagram, Afghanistan, from non-combat injuries. U.S. Army Medic Paul Nakamura, 21, of Santa Fe Springs was killed in June 2003 when his ambulance was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. According to the U.S Department of Defense Web site, as of Friday 2,035 U.S. soldiers had died in Iraq. [email protected] (562)698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!