“Dream big. You’re not defined by your circumstances but how you progress. Approach your journey with confidence and don’t feel like you should be put down by others. In the end your success is attributed to yourself”
Senior, Brandon Lee’s college search has been much different than that of his peers. As the first in his family to attend college, Brandon spoke to the High Times about his unique process.
Heading into high school, Brandon set his sights on attending a local college. He told the High Times that he felt like college was going to be “too big” for him. Nevertheless, as time went on, Brandon met older students who challenged him to re-think the preconceived notions that he could not aim higher. By Junior Year, Brandon began working harder and began seeing himself with loftier goals. During this often consequential year in the college process, Brandon met two influential teachers, Mr. Marzloff and Mr. Turkington, to whom he attributes much of his passion for STEM and for learning to. When asked about having Brandon as a student, Mr. Marzloff, Brandon’s AP Physics Teacher recalled: “Despite the reputation of AP Physics 1 being one of the toughest courses in the high school, Brandon took the course as a personal challenge to see if he could challenge himself academically. His efforts paid off as he was one of the hardest working and most consistent students in AP Physics 1 last year. Brandon would always jump right into the lab trying to figure it out from the start. There was never any milling around in the lab and he was a great team leader.”
With his high grades and passion for STEM, Brandon began to open his eyes to the college search. He worked tirelessly through Sophomore and Junior years to self- study for the ACT. He took as many online seminars as possible, completed and reviewed countless practice tests, and completed online practice through the CrackACT program. This hard work was just one aspect of his long journey.
In the Summer going into Senior Year, Brandon began the college application process. He told the High Times that as he researched colleges and scholarships, he came across the Questbridge Program. This is a program that serves low-income and first-generation students and gives them a unique opportunity to apply to college using a supplemental application. Brandon soon applied to and was chosen for this program. Throughout the Questbridge Summer Program, Brandon was able to work in seminars to craft his essays and application. With his exceptional grades, recommendations, and application, Brandon was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania; the first in his family to attend college.
At Penn, Brandon intends to study along the Pre-Med track and hopes to one day become an Oncologist. Before even stepping on campus, Brandon has attended a Penn Cancer Seminar, spoken with professors, and planned research opportunities.
When asked if has any advice for students hoping to follow along his path, Brandon simply said “Dream big. You cannot change your circumstances. Just be confident with yourself.” This is a true testament to Brandon’s hard work. It did not matter that he was the first in his family, Brandon focused on what he could control and continued to aim higher and higher. There is nothing that he will be unable to accomplish when he sets foot on campus this fall.
Sofia Lee, Patrick Demeulder
Editor-in-Chief, Staff Writer
Graphic: Brandon Lee