Another Fil-Am student from Saipan was accepted to two Ivy League schools and 11 prestigious institutions

By Lori Lyn Lirio

Tinian High School senior Mariah Cruz at the Board of Education office. She was accepted at 2 Ivy League school and 11 universities. Photo © Lori Lyn Lirio

BOARD of Education student representative Mariah Cruz was accepted to two Ivy League schools and 11 prestigious institutions, including the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Since the start of school year 2017-2018, Cruz, who is a Filipino-American, started applying to Yale, Princeton, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, University of California Irvine, University of California Merced, University of California San Diego, University of Californian Los Angeles, University of Hawaii Manoa, Washington State University Pullman, University of Washington Seattle, Seaton Hall University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In a recent interview with Cruz, she said the letter of acceptance started arriving before Feb. 14.

“I got accepted in all of them. I thought I would only be accepted to one or two universities or would not get any,” Cruz said.

Cruz is a senior student at Tinian High School. Aside from her academics, she also focuses on extra- curricular activities, which are mostly community service.

“It is a great feeling to be accepted at these prestigious schools, but at the same time stressful. I am always stuck at the question: ‘what do I choose?’ They are all the best and they are dream school to a lot of people,” she said.

She believed that either one of them would bring her to where she wanted to go. After high school, she was thinking of taking business and law and she was considering of going to either Stanford University or UC Berkeley.

“But I will make my decision next week because I want to be sure and I want to be prepared,” she said.

Her acceptance to the prestigious universities was her Valentine’s gift to her parents – Mary Susan and Allen Perez – as she broke the news on Feb. 14.

“It was the best Valentine present. I was shocked because we didn’t know that she was applying in these universities,” Mrs. Perez said.

According to the mother, Cruz shouldered all the expenses, perhaps saving up her allowances, in order to pay the fee to apply to these universities.

“She never asked us for money. Mariah is very smart and studious. She is very quiet and full of surprises,” the mother said.

The Valentine’s present for them did not stop there as Cruz showed her parents her SAT result – 1520. Of the 2.6 million students in the U.S. who took SAT in 2017, Cruz was among the 23,000 students who got the highest score.

“I am so proud of her,” Mrs. Perez said, as she described her daughter as smart and always has the determination to get what she wants.

Mrs. Perez recounted her youngest daughter was only five years old when she arrived from the Philippines.

“Back then, she didn’t know how to speak English, not even a word,” she said, adding she hired a tutor for her.

“My husband and I, even my mother-in-law and sister-in-law also took turns in helping her in English and Math.”

When she was in fourth grade, Cruz started excelling in school, the mother said.

“Her accomplishments are also our accomplishments. I am so blessed because Mariah is smart and very down to earth – those are the blessing that I count,” Mrs. Perez said in a phone interview.

She also gave credit to Cruz’s school teachers from elementary, middle school and high school.

She said they all helped her 17-year-old daughter to be an excellent student and mold her character.

“Teachers here are really pushing the students to learn. They give you every opportunity to excel in education.”

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