Ling DeBellisAs the 2018–19 school year comes to an end, we’re sharing the college choice stories of several members of the Class of 2019!

In what grade did you come to MPA? 
I started MPA in PreK in 2005! This was MPA’s first PreK class. I was really shy back then, and had faced isolation at a PreK before MPA, so I was pretty nervous on the first day of school. Lorraine Anderson, the former MPA PreK teacher, was amazingly kind and nurturing; it didn’t take long for me to come out of my shell!

How did you come to choose the college that you did?
I chose Rice University in Houston, TX because it just felt like home. The people were so authentic and welcoming. Our campus tour was incredibly accessible (I am a wheelchair user, and have had terrible experiences at other colleges). I ate lunch with the best, nerdiest students ever, and instantly felt a connection. I was clearly surrounded by supportive, engaging peers and brilliant professors! And, of course, Houston weather is my kind of vibe. I ended up applying Early Decision because I knew I’d be heartbroken if I didn’t get in. A bonus is that Rice is neighbors to the world’s largest medical complex (really!) — fingers crossed for plenty of research gigs!

What are you most excited about as you embark on your college experience?
I am most excited to meet new people. As much as I’ve loved the small community at MPA, and Rice is just shy of 4,000 undergraduates total, it will still be nice to get to know new faces. I’m also most excited about the academics, particularly the STEM fields. You have to remember, I applied with three possible majors: Biology, Biochemistry, and Nuclear Physics. So it’ll be exciting to see what I settle on in terms of a particular subject within the sciences. I’d also love to minor in graphic design or fine arts to continue feeding my artistic creativity!

What did you appreciate most about the college counseling process at MPA?
Ms. Pederson is great because she has lots of different ideas of colleges that you might be interested in. For example, my second choice college was Barrett at Arizona State. It was widely different than Rice, but it too would have been a good fit. I wouldn’t have found Barrett if it wasn’t for Ms. Pederson! Also, she is incredibly supportive. My first quarter of senior year was really tough, and I was stressed to the max with college applications and multiple AP classes. I remember having a meeting with Ms. Pederson, and I just cried. Too overwhelmed and a little intimidated by the college process, Ms. Pederson put everything back into perspective and was the reassurance I desperately needed….along with plenty of tissues and yummy chocolate!

What about your MPA experience has best prepared you for college?
I definitely think MPA makes great speakers and writers, essentially teaching students effective communication. As a 6th grader, I made my first public speech in front of 600 people! Since then, I have been confident, and find great enthusiasm giving speeches about my life and journey so far. Click here to view my senior speech. In junior year of high school, I collaborated with a teacher on an independent American History research project exploring the collective memory of the Vietnam War in 1968. The project boosted my critical writing skills, helping me to write a twenty page thesis paper — in high school! The experience was simply unbelievable! And I learned so much, not just about our country but also about myself and my own semi-Vietnamese heritage.

What is your advice for MPA’s Class of 2031 (kindergartners)?
Keep imagining the future. Think of your passions and find what piques your curiosity. And then do whatever that may be for the rest of your life and wherever you go. Remember to be human and remember to be kind. Be the one who takes care of others, whether it’s someone you love or someone you just met.

Insight from Ms. Pederson, Director of College Counseling:
Ling’s college search placed high importance on finding an academic fit where she could join a community she would love – those “nerdy,” fun and engaged students she met on her campus visit which ultimately clinched her preference for Rice. As she toured other academically rigorous campuses coast to coast, she also paid close attention to the weather and important physical campus attributes, which Barrett at ASU, a residential honors college with a strong academic profile and impressive outcomes, also offered. I’ve observed Ling for all of my dozen years at MPA; as I watch her graduate now, I can easily imagine her pursuing new ventures at Rice and continuing with those already begun, such as visual arts and her initial foray into lab research at the University of Minnesota. Perhaps she will also continue with advocacy work, given her experience with Governor Dayton’s Young Women’s Initiative Cabinet and her speaking engagements on behalf of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. Ling has many talents and I look forward to seeing how she uses them in the years to come!

The 55 members of the Class of 2019 were offered admission to 107 different colleges and universities in 30 states, Washington, D.C. and Canada. They will attend 44 different schools in 18 states and Washington, D.C. Learn more about MPA’s College Counseling program here!

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