Meet Joyce Zheng, a senior at St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls, and soon to be freshman at the University of Pennsylvania! Joyce describes herself as a “budding researcher, a math enthusiast, and the daughter of two immigrants.”
The college application process can feel like an uphill climb for most seniors, and Joyce felt no different, “I applied through QuestBridge, which is a program that matches low-income minority students to elite institutions. So all of last summer I was writing essays, upon essays, upon essays, and even made a schedule for myself so I could complete every essay on time.” Through both QuestBridge and the Common Application, Joyce applied to Holy Family University, MIT, Princeton, Yale, UPenn, Duke, and Vanderbilt.
“It’s stressful,” Joyce says about the process, “and more often than not you’ll get a few rejections that will leave you completely dejected, but my thoughts were ‘Hey, you’re gonna end up where you’re going eventually,’ so I had a bit of optimism and always kept myself organized in the process.”
All of the stress, essays, and organizing came to a triumphant end when Joyce received her formal acceptance to UPenn.
“That whole afternoon, the day that the decisions came out I was telling myself that worse comes to worse I get rejected, and that would be okay because I have back up plans.” Joyce walked us through her entire afternoon leading up to the big moment as she took a Statics test for her dual enrollment course with Holy Family University, saying, “I was taking the test when I saw the email pop up and I just thought, ‘Finish your test and then you can rip off the band aid.’ But to my surprise when I logged into my UPenn portal I saw confetti fall down and for, like, five seconds I just stared in disbelief thinking, was I dreaming?”
Joyce described the next five seconds as a lot of joyful screaming.
As for the next four years, there is a lot in store for Joyce and it seems like it is already beginning even before she steps foot on campus! Through admitted student groups, she has already made a group of friends, “Potential Roomies,” as she calls them and can’t wait to see what opportunities await her at the University City campus. However, her time at St. Hubert has not come to an end just yet.
“Confidence, definitely confidence,” was what Joyce described as what St. Hubert taught her in the past four years. “I came from a big middle school, so coming here to St. Hubert was like a breath of fresh air. It’s a small school, small classes, and an intimate sisterly feel. I came in very introverted and shy, but now because of the opportunities that I’ve had here and the people that I’ve met, I’m very confident in saying that this school has helped me to grow as a person and as a young adult.”
Looking into the future, Joyce hopes to pursue a double major in Mathematics and Physics while attending UPenn. Her goals include publishing research papers as an undergraduate, working toward earning a PhD, and seeking out moments to help her have fun and get out of her shell as she approaches adulthood.
“I need to graduate high school first!” Joyce exclaimed, as one door closes and another opens in the coming months leading up to graduation. Looking ahead also includes looking back for Joyce, reflecting on where she started as a freshman at St. Hubert four years ago.
“Stop. Freaking. Out. Over. Every. Little. Thing!” Joyce says she would tell her ninth grade self if she had the chance, “I had so many breakdowns, overthinking a lot about my future, and I would love to tell my ninth grade self to just relax because you don’t need to be so worried.”
Joyce will be attending University of Pennsylvania in the fall with a full ride scholarship, something she does not take lightly. A successful and involved student here at St. Hubert, Joyce graduates this June as an Officer in the Bambie Ambassadors, an Officer of the National Honor Society, and Officer of Bambies United, first flute in the Orchestra, and a member of the Mathletes.
Before she moves her tassel from right to left and joins the ever growing group of women who once called St. Hubert home, Joyce left us with a message of encouragement.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, or what your background is, you are more than welcome to apply to any colleges and reach for what you feel is impossible, because you never know, there is always a chance. Ultimately, college is going to be your experience, and it's your job to seize that chance.”