Four Ivy League schools -- Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania -- said yes to Auriel Wright.
The Northeast High School senior graduates Saturday, and she has decided she wants to wear the crimson of Harvard.
Wright, the school’s valedictorian, was motivated to achieve academic excellence after a family tragedy she faced when she was young.
“When I was 13, my dad died in a house fire.” she said. “Ever since then, I’ve been so driven.”
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Her desire to do better for her family fed her intellectual curiosity and was a catalyst for dreaming big. She began looking for as many opportunities as she could to make those dreams come true.
“I want to get my mom another house,” she said. “I want to do better for my family. I want to do more.”
As a sophomore, she took the initiative to approach Tara Jones-Lawrence, a future science teacher, and asked for guidance.
“She just came to me and said, ‘I need a science mentor. Will you be my mentor?’” Jones-Lawrence recalled.
She said Wright really wanted to participate in a science fair, so she agreed to work with her on afternoons, weekends and over Christmas break to create a project.
“Our first project we came up with creating some type of bio-diesel fuel so it would be efficient and cleaner for the environment,” Jones-Lawrence said.
That project won her a regional competition and even took her as far as Texas.
Jones-Lawrence said Wright came up with a philosophy that there’s always going to be someone or something better than she is, which keeps her striving. She added that Wright is “obsessively persistent and consistent in everything that she does.”
In another project, Wright needed to “shock” some soy beans, Jones-Lawrence said, but she didn’t have the appropriate equipment to do so.
“That became a mission that seemed impossible,” she said.
Wright thought outside the box, though, and called the school system’s police chief, who brought his Taser to the table. Jones-Lawrence said Wright will find a way to do anything.
She’s also been a lab volunteer at a Macon hospital. For the past four years, she’s done research on a global feeding initiative.
“What you do outside the class proves that you want to make a contribution to society,” Wright said, adding that her extracurricular activities helped give her the Ivy League edge.
“I believe what I did outside of class is what made me stick out as an applicant.”
Her science acumen is also what earned her The Telegraph’s Golden Eagle Award in science.
Wright said she’s earned $1.3 million in scholarship offers and does workshops. She even has her own website, AurielWright.com.
“There are opportunities,” she said. “You have to go searching and digging for them, though.”
To contact writer David Schick, call 744-4382.