Teen is first from Central Falls HS into Harvard

Photo Credit: Shawn O'Domski/WPRI.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time ever, a Central Falls High School student has been accepted to prestigious Harvard University.

Jean Paul Valencia, 17, is the Central Falls class valedictorian. He’s not only been accepted to Harvard, he’s been accepted to Brown, Yale, Dartmouth and Columbia, according to the high school.

“My parents are both very hard-working, and neither graduated high school, but they instilled in me an appreciation for education and a love of learning,” Valencia said in a news release from the school Monday.

Valencia was born in Queens, New York, to parents who had emigrated from Colombia. His family moved back to Colombia when he was two years old, but returned to the States when he was ready to enter kindergarten. By the time he was seven years old, the family had moved to Central Falls — and Jean Paul was fully bilingual in both Spanish and English.

The school said his family has struggled to make ends meet; this week, his mother started a new job after being unemployed for three years.

Valencia’s accomplishments, besides being a straight-A student, include a high school internship at the Rhode Island State House in the office of Sen. Christopher Ottiano.

He has yet to choose where he plans to attend college.

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