Ohio Teen In Foster Care Applied to Harvard ‘as a Joke’, now she’s on her way to Harvard University

An Ohio teen who entered foster care at the age of 16 has landed a full ride due to her hard work. While working at Walmart Kelisha Williams was encouraged to apply for college after being encouraged by her foster mom Maria Finkenstead.

“I said, ‘Hey, did you take the ACT?’” Finkenstead told WCPO Cincinnati. “She said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘Well, what did you get?’ And she’s like, a 32, and I was like, ‘You can go anywhere!’”

Williams decided to cast a wide net and apply for 24 schools, including her dream school, the University of Southern California. She was surprised when she received her Harvard University acceptance email, since she applied to the school “as a joke.”

“When I applied to Harvard, I applied to Harvard as a joke,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to get in.”

During the admissions interviews, Williams talk with Harvard alum Michelle Obama and “Hamilton” creator Lin Manuel-Miranda, and was given a piece of advice by the former first lady. “Wise advice, of course, more or less, you just have to keep going. No one’s ever fully always on your side,” the “Becoming” author said when asked how she “kept going with so many people working against her,” according to Williams.

The teen hopes that her story is inspiration to children in foster care across the nation, they can achieve anything. “To any of the foster kids that are watching, everyone always says it’s going to get better. I never used to believe that when I was going through it and stuff like that,” she stated. “Eventually it does.”

Williams plans to use her scholarship to study political science and psychology at Harvard. After school she hopes to pursue a career in politics.

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