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3 Top Schools Came Calling, And Hartford's Jennifer Ky Picked Yale

Steven Goode

June 15, 2010

Jennifer Ky was certain she was going to go to MIT in the fall. The Hartford resident and graduate of University High School of Science and Engineering had "been in love" with the prestigious school for several years, and when she and two friends were offered early admission, it was pretty much a done deal.

And then Yale called.

Followed by a call from Harvard.

Amazing? Jennifer's University High English teacher Theresa Vara-Dannen, said she would have been amazed if all three had not accepted Jennifer, calling the 17-year-old one of the most mature and talented poets she has ever met.

But Jennifer says she's most interested in math and the sciences.

Born in Hartford, Jennifer is the first in her family to be born in the United States. Her parents, Michael Ky and Na Li, are from China, she said. After moving from China to Vietnam, Michael Ky came to the United States as a refugee during the Vietnam War.

Jennifer said that her years at the magnet high school, created as a partnership between the Hartford school system and the University of Hartford, helped prepare her for college, in part because she could take college courses at UHart. The courses included pre-calculus with trigonometry, engineering with computer applications, differential equations and calculus.

In all, Jennifer said she earned about 50 college credits, although they won't count toward her degree at Yale which is where she has decided to go. But the new graduate said that is fine with that arrangement, because Yale will be paying for most of her education.

Jennifer had only a week to make up her mind, but in the end, she said, she was won over by Yale's tight-knit community and the good things she heard students say about the university.

"Everyone is so open about their love for the school," she said. "Yale really clicked."

Jennifer plans to major in molecular biology and is considering medical school and a career in bio-medical research.

She said she isn't focused just on math and science, though. She has won awards for her writing and poetry and has had works in both genres published.

Her English teacher remains one of Jennifer's biggest fans. Jennifer "is one of the most humble and completely honest, sweet, down-to-earth people you'll meet," Vara-Dannen said.

Jennifer, meanwhile, will spend the summer as a teaching assistant at UHart, in the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program Summer Gaming Challenge at the the school.

And she admits that part of her will miss attending MIT with her two friends. But she is looking forward to getting together with them in New Haven and in Cambridge, Mass.

"We'll be busy, but we'll visit," she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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