Ellie Hylton is the kind of student that legends are made of. She is graduating from Harvard University, which is enough to impress anyone. But Ellie is special, even among Harvard graduates. Besides graduating summa c*m-laude with a degree in Sociology, this young student also has the highest GPA in her entire class. As a result, she’s been awarded the Sophia Freund Prize.
Ellie is also described as sweet, humble and kind. She also happens to be the niece of CNN”s Soledad O’Brien.
Ellie recently did an interview with ForHarriet.com, during which she described who she is and what she believes. She says that both of her parents were alums of Harvard, and that she decided to attend the university after doing a visit with their track team.
My parents never pushed Harvard. I did visits at several schools during my senior year of high school, and I eventually did an overnight visit with the track team at Harvard. I really liked the people that I met during that overnight trip.
She says that despite the fact that she puts high expectations on herself, she didn’t feel any added pressure from her parents. Her parents seemed more focused on helping her find ways to be happy and well-adjusted, rather than put pressure on her.
I never felt pressured to achieve anything because of what my parents have done. In fact, my parents almost never talked about Harvard while I was growing up. Throughout my four years of college, my mom and dad were pretty relaxed about all things academic. They encouraged me to do my best, but they never set specific expectations for me.
Ellie says that the way she managed both track and academics was by being careful with her time. She left the track team at the end of her sophomore year due to injuries, but before that, she kept a hectic schedule. Despite these challenges, Ellie was determined to succeed academically and be the absolute best student she could be.
I actually left the track team at the end of my sophomore year due to injuries, but before that, I relied on my experience from balancing a busy schedule in high school. I took my classes earlier in the morning, in order to free up my schedule for homework before practice. I learned to use my free time efficiently; I made a lot of very detailed “to-do” lists. I also took many classes that I enjoyed, so studying wasn’t always a miserable task.
Ellie says that the way she remained academically motivated was by finding subjects that she was passionate about. This played a role in allowing her to study topics that she found interesting, which helped her to deal with the monotony.