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Sport Welsh teenager from the Rhondda 'tries his luck' at getting into Havard University and gets a massive surprise

14:01  05 march  2021
14:01  05 march  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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A teenager from south Wales has been accepted to study at the super-prestigious American university Harvard after he "tried his luck" at bagging a place.

Steffan Dylan Jones, 19, is a former pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, but this summer he's set to travel to the USA to study at one of the famous sports colleges and university complexes in the world.

Steffan, a Welsh athletics champion from Ynyswen, was one of just 2,015 people worldwide to gain a place at Harvard University out of 40,248 applicants.

As well as studying four A Levels and the Welsh Baccalaureate at school, Steffan also found the time to study a Diploma in Sporting Excellence at Loughborough College.

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The young athlete, who was also a 2015 Nos Galan support runner for Colin Jackson, trains five times a week and was on track to represent Team GB in the Youth World Championships this year had it not been for the global pandemic.

Now the focus is on August when he's set to travel to study at the world-famous campus in Massachusetts, and he cannot wait to set off on his new adventure and explore America.

a woman on a court: Steffan trains five times a week alongside his studies © Steffan Jones Steffan trains five times a week alongside his studies

Speaking about gaining a spot at Harvard, Steffan said his dedication to sport played a big part in his ticket to the States.

"I'm an athlete - in America it helped me get in," Steffan said.

"In the UK it's not as important in the universities, and it's not as bigged-up, but in America it's a big deal out there.

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"I knew I wanted to go out there. I started looking at Boston and, as I was looking, I thought 'if I was in Boston I wouldn't want to be five minutes away from Harvard, and think I was missing out' so I tried my luck.

"I got in touch with the coach and he helped me. The coach was really nice - he was the first coach to reply to me."

Steffan said, when he was applying to universities, he was also looking at places like Yale and Princeton, but when he made contact with Harvard it seemed like a pretty good match right from the start.

But, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Steffan said his last year at school didn't come without its challenges. It was only around this time last year that his dreams were up in the air as the schools were forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said it was tough for him not to actually be able to sit any exams as he wanted to put his all in, but he was elated when he discovered he had got into his university of choice.

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When asked what it was like to be prevented from sitting exams last summer, Steffan said: "I was gutted as I'm one of those people who is quite chilled all year, and then put all the effort in right at the end. I wanted to try really hard.

"I had an exam for my SATs, which is something you have to do to get into an American university, so I was revising for that around my mocks. I did well in my SATs, but I didn't try that hard in my mocks. I was doing lots of things."

a person holding a piece of pizza: Steffan is very dedicated to athletics © Steffan Jones Steffan is very dedicated to athletics

Luckily Steffan was still awarded the grades to help him bag a place in the States. Back last summer he walked away from school with four As in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.

He hopes to use his qualifications to study an engineering course at Harvard, but he said one of the differences in studying in America is you get to select the exact course you want to focus on when you get there.

Steffan said: "I was hoping for an A* in Maths, but because of my class work they had to give me an A.

"It's just me being silly because, at the end of the day, it got me into Harvard. I cannot wait until August when I will be able to train at Harvard’s amazing facilities and compete in the world-famous Ivy League.

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“I’m massively grateful to all my teachers throughout my time in school, who not only made my school years enjoyable but who also helped me achieve the grades I needed to secure my place at such a prestigious university."

Steffan also said his parents and sister are so proud of his achievements, and have been "so supportive" of his journey.

He added: "I don't think anyone in my family has been to America.

"They are so happy too. My dad is constantly on Youtube looking at Harvard videos."

Steffan has always loved athletics and his talent was recognised at a young age, when he joined Aberdare Valley Amateur Athletics Club. Now running for Swansea Harriers, he has competed in and won many tournaments to date for both his home town, his county and his country.

Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is highly selective, with fewer than five per cent of applicants being offered admission in recent years.

Famous past students include former USA Presidents Barack Obama, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt and George W Bush.

Harvard prides itself on its sporting facilities, in particular athletics, with Harvard Crimson, the official athletics teams of Harvard, having 42 intercollegiate teams in the NCAA Division and Ivy League.

Joy Rosser, a councillor at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said Steffan getting into Havard was an amazing achievement.

She said: "This is an amazing achievement for him and his family, but also a great testament to all of this teachers and coaches who are helping him reach his full potential.

“Steffan has already achieved so much in the classroom and on the running track and we wish him well as he continues his academic and sporting journey in America.”

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