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University Prep senior Jade Amaya will attend Columbia University after graduation

VICTORVILLE, Ca — University Prep senior Jade Amaya says she never imagined going to an Ivy League college. As it turns out, that’s exactly what she’ll be doing in the fall when she starts classes at Columbia University.  

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would actually get into an Ivy League school,” Amaya said. “I thought I might go to a Cal State or a UC.”

Amaya said she was inspired to take a chance and “try something different” when she attended a summer residency provided by the USC Bovard Scholars program.

“There they had a whole bunch of college counselors from across the U.S., and mentors,” Amaya said. “They told us, schools that are hard to get into, they typically meet 100 percent of (financial) need. So they encouraged me to apply for an Ivy League school.”

It was good advice — Amaya was accepted to Columbia earlier this school year, with the university covering her tuition and housing while other expenses are covered by additional scholarships she earned. 

Amaya is in the top 10 of her class with a 4.45 GPA at University Prep, where she has attended since seventh grade. UP is a California Distinguished School as well as a two-time National Blue Ribbon School and consistently leads the region in the U.S. News & World Report rankings due to its focus on academic rigor and college readiness. 

Past UP graduates have been accepted to prestigious schools, but Ivy League acceptances are somewhat rare, and Principal Valerie Hatcher said this was UP’s first acceptance to Columbia.   

“We always tell the kids, wherever they go, we get to go with them,” Hatcher said. “So I can say, hey, Columbia, we get to be a part of that! Every time we get to send a kid somewhere beyond our borders it’s a feather in the community’s cap. So we’re celebrating her and I know she’ll be successful.”

Amaya said she chose Columbia because it’s located in New York City, which could offer many opportunities for internships. She said she’d like to do some type of work related to education and school curricula. She’s already gained some experience in the field as a member of the ACLU Youth Liberty Squad, which advocates for improvements to student life, and she also served as a student worker in the VVUHSD district office last year.

University Prep senior Jade Amaya will attend Columbia University after graduation
(University Prep senior Jade Amaya will attend Columbia University after graduation.)

“That tugged my heart a little bit toward working in education,” Amaya said. “If kids have to be in (a school) environment, it should be enjoyable and equitable.”

Amaya is one of two students in the Victor Valley Union High School District to earn an Ivy League acceptance this school year. At VVUHSD’s State of the District event last week, Superintendent Carl Coles welcomed Amaya to the stage and recognized her along with Adelanto High School senior Rayna Franklin, who is attending Brown University.

“Our students’ educational journeys may lead them in many directions after high school,” Coles said. “For Jade, her path will lead her to the Ivy League. She is an example of what can happen when the hard work and dedication of a student is paired with the support of a great school. She brings pride not only to our school and district, but to the community as a whole.” 

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