DuBOIS — Looking recently at a paper she wrote in the fifth grade, Alexis Maze saw that one of her long-term goals was to be accepted into an Ivy League university.
“And then, I kind of lost the dream once I got into high school, because you know, it’s not necessarily realistic and didn’t seem feasible,” said Maze, who will be a DuBois Area High School senior at the start of the 2018-19 school year.
But in the spring of her junior year, the dream came back to life. She is among 100 top students nationwide selected for the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) scholar program.
Beginning June 16, she will join other incoming high school seniors for a seven-week program at Princeton University in New Jersey. The program is designed to help students gain admission and be successful at elite universities.
“I believe I’m the first in this area to have been chosen for this,” said Maze.
She learned about the program while visiting a college website.
The intensive application process began in the fall of 2017. Maze submitted two essays, two letters of recommendation, a writing sample, school transcripts showing her grades, and information about community service and extracurricular activities, which include DAHS theater, Book Club president, gifted program, National Honor Society and the school newspaper.
She also provided information about her family’s finances and completed a Skype interview.
“One of the essays was about how different parts of my life shaped my experiences and one was about someone who has inspired me,” Maze said.
Dorothea Hackett, a DAHS teacher of SAT prep/Film in Literature/French/AP Language and Composition and theater director, is the person Maze wrote about as her inspiration.
“She is just one of those amazing teachers, she works so hard, she never leaves the school and she never complains about it and she loves what she does,” Maze said of Hackett.
Maze, who has a 4.2 GPA, found out in early April that she had been selected for the program.
“I was very excited. They only accept a hundred people throughout the country. It’s like a 3 to 5 percent acceptance rate so I was pretty stunned,” Maze said.
This summer at Princeton, Maze will receive college-level writing instruction, ACT/SAT test preparation, and will participate in workshops and leadership seminars. She will be assigned a counselor who will help her with college admissions and financial aid.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Princeton because they have a good English program so I’m excited the camp is held there,” Maze said. “They have a great English program, you can study abroad and they work hard to make sure you graduate debt-free.”
But she admits she could change her mind about Princeton.
“Since I’m going to be visiting a lot of others for the first time, I might fall in love with a different one,” said Maze. Some of the other universities she will visit during the camp include Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Swarthmore, University of Pennsylvania, Barnard, and Columbia University.
Her career goals include being a novelist.
“But since that’s not super secure, I will work toward being a literature professor,” Maze said.
Her mother, Debbie Maze, is excited about the experience that awaits her daughter.
“I feel like she’s going to be in a good place and it’s great for her future,” Debbie Maze said.
Maze, of Reynoldsville, is looking forward to participating in the program.
“I’ve just always been one of those people who are self motivated, I guess,” said Maze. “My mom, she had to go through school with me and my brother, which was hard. So that’s motivated me that I want to do my best now, so I can have an easier life later.”