Harvard Bound

AboiiMicrobiology and International Relations with a Pre-Med focus. Environmental Engineering. Biomedical Engineering. These are the types of college majors you would expect to hear when you ask a Harvard student what they are studying—and they are the majors soon-to-be PISD graduates Sheyda Aboii (Hendrickson), Zak Aossey and Quan Le (Connally) plan to pursue next year when they will be freshmen at the prestigious Ivy League school.

The trio has more in common than just the Harvard connection—they are all former Dessau Middle School students. Murchison Elementary Principal Brian Ernest was an assistant principal at DMS when Aboii, Aossey and Le were students.

"The thing you have to know about these three kids is they haven't just recently become great students or leaders," Ernest said. "They have been remarkable kids for as long as I can remember. In a time when our students face difficult decisions between right and wrong, and are even sometimes encouraged to do the wrong thing by their peers, Sheyda, Zak and Quan are shining examples of kids who make the right choices and set an example for those around them."

All three students cited the same Dessau Middle School teacher when asked about what they remembered most from their time at DMS, and which teacher really stood out.

"Mrs. (Sharyl) Jones was the sponsor for the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), and she was my language arts teacher," Aossey said. "She really pushed us to think for ourselves and encouraged us to be individuals."

Jones easily recalled the three students and the immediate impression they made on her.

"I knew from the first week of school in my Pre AP English class that Zak and Sheyda were something special. Our first project—a squish book—a unique scrapbook about themselves, was a testament to their creativity and mature thought about themselves and their lives," Jones said. "Every day they came ready to learn and get everything they could from school. They made teaching a pleasure with their willingness to learn, explore and share with others."

Aossey and LeLe didn't have Jones as a teacher, but his experiences with her as NJHS sponsor left him with strong memories.

"Mrs. Jones really encouraged me to read more demanding books than just what we were reading in class," Le said. "Even though she wasn't my teacher, she took an interest in what I was doing and urged me to work hard and do more than just the minimum effort needed to be successful."

"Through NJHS I could see Quan was a hard worker with a great sense of humor," Jones said.

"I am proud to have had the pleasure to work with these three students. Harvard needs to get ready for the freshman from Pflugerville. They are going to light the world on fire!"

College was always part of the plan for Aboii, Aossey and Le, though Harvard wasn't necessarily always the goal.

Aboii was considering in-state schools like Baylor, Rice, The University of Texas and Texas A&M as she planned for college. Like many students, she knew of Harvard's reputation, but didn't think it was a practical choice.

"I was concerned about the distance from home and didn't want to consider Harvard just because of the Harvard hype," she said. "Once I looked into the different opportunities, Harvard became more of a consideration, and then finally it became obvious to me it was the place I was meant to go."

Aossey is an All-State football player who dreamed of playing Division I football at a powerhouse program. When Harvard came calling, the pull of an Ivy League education convinced Aossey to change his tack.

"I was focused on the opportunity to play at a big football program," Aossey said. "Then Harvard entered the picture my senior year, and the thought of getting to play college football while earning a degree from an Ivy League school was really exciting. I am so grateful for this opportunity and thank my coaches at Connally for helping me reach this point."

Le says he applied to Harvard on a whim and never really thought he would be accepted.

"Harvard was just a distant dream when I applied," he said. "I admit it—I went crazy when I got the acceptance letter. My parents were so happy."

When asked what they would miss most when they left for college, the answer was unanimous—family. All three are leaving behind younger siblings and proud parents as they make the move to Massachusetts.

Aossey wanted to leave future CHS and PISD graduates with a final thought.

"We are proof that you can achieve your dreams if you work hard," he said. "Get involved on your campus. Be a leader and make good choices. The future is yours to make."

06/03/10