NPHS senior Williams headed to Harvard

NPHS senior Williams headed to Harvard

Samantha Williams, a senior at North Providence High School, has been accepted into Harvard University.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – They call it Ivy Day.

All eight Ivy League schools release their admission decisions on the same day each year, as thousands of hopeful first-year students wait with bated breath to learn whether they’ve been accepted.

North Providence High School senior Samantha Williams had been anxiously anticipating Ivy Day 2021, saying she applied to 11 schools, including several Ivy League institutions, but always aspired to be accepted into Harvard University.

“Since elementary school, if I didn’t get an A on a spelling test I’d be so panicked about it,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go to a nice college, but I didn’t think it would be Harvard … that was the dream,” she said.

She set her eyes on the prize.

“I said: I’m going to go for it. I was so focused on the goal,” she recalls.

Williams maintained her grades (including a grade point average hovering around 4.3), and became involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including mock trial and model legislature.

Her high school career was marked by pre-6 a.m. wake-ups, long school days, after-school clubs and dance, before sitting down to start her homework and study around 8 p.m. every night.

“When you have a goal, you make the time,” she said about managing a packed schedule. “It was a lot of agenda work, and figuring out: when exactly can I get this done?”

The time eventually came to apply for college. With Harvard at the top of her list, she sent in her applications and crossed her fingers.

On April 6, Ivy Day 2021 arrived, and Williams said she was a ball of nerves. Harvard had received a record number of applications for the fall. Of 57,000 applicants, only 2,000, or 3.2 percent, would be accepted.

“I thought there was no chance of me getting in,” Williams said. “I tried to convince my parents to let me look at the letter alone, because I thought I’d be disappointed.”

She’s glad she didn’t listen. Sitting beside her mother, with her father on FaceTime, she saw the word “Welcome.” She was in.

She joked that she expected confetti to fall from the sky around her. It felt like that, at least.

“The minute I got in, my dad was on Harvard’s merch website,” she said, laughing. She said both of her parents, Garry Williams Jr., and Jacqueline Garriepy, have been immensely supportive of her.

“My mom was in shock, and my dad was having his own emotional moment. He said he always knew I’d get in. This was always his thing,” she said, recalling him giving her a hard time for bringing her European history flashcards to study during the Super Bowl.

Within two hours, she committed to Harvard University’s Class of 2025.

She’s still pinching herself. “It still doesn’t feel real,” she said. “Having the privilege of knowing I was able to get in and that I could afford to go there … I wanted them to know I’m ready and fully committed.”

Williams visited the school last week, taking in the campus she’ll soon call home.

She plans to study government and economics, and hopes to eventually enter the law field.