James Casey of Natick, a student veteran and honors student, graduating from MassBay Community College, has been accepted to Harvard University. He explains his acceptance into Harvard University “as being a total long shot.” He added, “I knew I had a solid GPA, but it’s Harvard, and it’s very competitive. I worked really hard to be a good student, but I didn’t think I would be this successful. After a lot of hard work, determination, and support from the MassBay faculty and staff, I will be a student at Harvard next fall. I am so excited that I got in!”
In high school, James studied Automotive Technology at Framingham’s Keefe Technical High School. Although he enjoyed the program and his teachers, he decided after high school he wanted to serve his country as an Assaultman in the United States Marine Corps. He signed a four-year commitment and the day after his high school graduation, he was off to Parris Island, South Carolina for recruit training. “I’m so happy I went into the Marines because it made me a more driven person. It really taught me to take advantage of opportunities that come your way, because you never know if you’ll have those opportunities again.” After his four years of service, James decided not to reenlist in the Marine Corps and headed home to decide his next move.
In September 2017 James began classes and quickly connected with MassBay Athletic Director, Adam Nelson, to see how his passion for sports and creative writing might help the College. “I started writing game recaps for the basketball team and was the public address (PA) announcer for all the home games. I really enjoyed being involved, so I would help with baseball and anything else the athletics department needed. I was having so much fun, that I applied and was accepted to be an Orientation Leader, welcoming new students to campus. It was an amazing opportunity.” Besides his extra curricular activities, James has been on Dean’s List every semester he’s been a student at MassBay, has taken four Honors classes, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, and is graduating with a 3.96 GPA.
With his sights set on pursuing a bachelors degree, he starting applying to local universities, but it wasn’t until his Communication Professor, Carolyn Guttilla, encouraged him did he decide to apply to Harvard. “I never even considered Harvard, because I knew how selective they are.” With Professor Guttilla’s support, he applied to Harvard and waited months to hear if he would be a Crimson in the fall.
His acceptance letter from Harvard University, which he received this week, states, “nearly sixteen hundred students applied for the twelve places available for transfer students.” James, a first generation college student explains, “I’m really proud, honored, and grateful for this opportunity. This is not lost on me, this is a big deal to be accepted and I’m extremely happy.”
James goes on to explain, “I have to admit, I really didn’t know much about MassBay before I came here. There’s a stigma around community college that it’s only for people that can’t succeed elsewhere, and that’s simply not true. Community college doesn’t limit you, it’s a great experience that anyone can take advantage of, and you can take those opportunities and turn it into the foundation to reach your goals. I honestly believe I wouldn’t have gotten into Harvard if it wasn’t for MassBay.”