Red & green Ivy

7 Cranston students head to nation's top colleges

The Cranston Herald ·

It is well-known that Ivy League institutions are some of the hardest to get into, with many acceptance rates falling into the single digits.

According to the website Education Corner, (, for 2018 the acceptance rates from all applicants for Harvard University was 6 percent, Columbia was 7 percent, Brown was 8.7 percent, the University of Pennsylvania was 10.5 percent, and Cornell was 14.2 percent.

Despite those daunting statistics however, it’s been a banner year in Cranston for the Ivies, as Cranston’s high schools will send more than a half-dozen students to Ivy League schools in the fall.

Three students from Cranston East and four from Cranston West have been deemed to have what it takes to get into the Ivy League.

For some, it was a childhood dream-come-true. For others, it was a recent challenge they took on, and yet for others it was more unexpected. But for all of them, it’s an early accomplishment on their post-secondary education journeys. Additionally, there are students at both high schools who were waitlisted at Ivy League schools, and are waiting to hear back after all accepted students have officially committed.

At Cranston East, Chelsea Asare was having a tough time deciding between Brown and Harvard for her neuroscience education, but ultimately chose to attend Harvard. Nathaniel Hardy also had a tough decision to make as he considered his acceptances to both Cornell and Brown, where he was leaning towards a major in history, but had recently committed to Brown. Hannah Joyce applied ‘early decision’ to Brown, where she hopes to explore her options for study in math and science, and committed to the school in December. All three students went to Park View Middle School together as well. At Cranston West, Scott Angilly and Will Such will both be attending Brown University where they will be studying biochemistry and business, respectively, and Such will also be playing football. Alexis Florio will be attending Columbia University, where she will be exploring a major in pre-law and playing golf, while Marc Mansolillo will head to UPenn in the fall for a major in nursing and a minor in Healthcare Management in the Wharton School of Business.

“For me, the Ivies has always been a goal,” said Chelsea Asare. “My parents immigrated here from Africa and they knew that the Ivy League Schools were prestigious. They made sure I studied hard to get it. Now that I’m older, my opinion has changed as I started to explore schools because I actually liked the school itself after visiting. Applying to Harvard was a shot in the dark, I figured I would just see what happened, because the acceptance rates just keep going down.”

Joyce didn’t specify attending an Ivy League school as an early goal, but as her educational career progressed and she was successful through high school, she began to consider it as a possibility.

“I didn’t want to go just because it was a prestigious school,” she said. “I really wanted to like the school. Late in my sophomore year I made it my goal, which is why I applied early decision.”

Similarly, Hardy didn’t necessarily buy into the idea of the Ivies as a prestigious group of schools he should specifically aim for, but rather he liked the school itself once he began the college exploration process. “It fit me, not because it was prestigious but when I toured it, Brown was a good fit,” he said.

Angilly, who is this year’s valedictorian at Cranston West, has always wanted to attend an Ivy League school. “When I was a kid, my grandmother took me to the campus at Brown and it inspired me,” he said. “I liked the location as well. It’s close to home, and it’s a more laid back atmosphere and environment.”

Marc Mansolillo also set a goal early on of attending an Ivy League institution, and had a very tough decision to make as he was offered a full ride at Villanova earlier this year. “I have visited UPenn two times since this winter and I liked their diversified four year undergraduate programming and the fact that it integrates the students into the community,” Mansolillo said. “I felt that it was the best environment for my capabilities.”

Florio began to consider applying to Columbia as she explored their opportunities as a golfer, but it was a campus visit that really sold her, as she realized that she felt like the school was a good fit for her. Such wanted to be sure he was attending a good school, but did not specifically set his sights on the Ivy League until more recently.

“I approached the coach at Brown about playing football there,” Such said. Once that connection was made, the idea became a reality.

Attending recent events at the schools as accepted students and meeting other classmates has helped several of the students feel even better and more excited about the next four years of their education.

“I went to a recent accepted students day at UPenn, and I saw that all of the faculty and even the students were coming together and working together to be the best that they could be,” said Mansolillo. “Everyone thinks that it is super competitive and that it’s very cut throat at this level, so it was very reassuring to see that it wasn’t like that.”

Angilly agreed. “All of the upperclassmen at my accepted students day were accepting and cooperative and not competitive,” he said. “They were there to help others and it was not at all cut-throat.”

No matter which high school they are coming from, all of the students feel well-prepared for this next step in their lives, thanks to the educations they have received in the Cranston Public Schools.

“I looked into all the options for high schools, and I knew I’d be better off here [at Cranston East] because of the culture and the vibe that exists,” said Joyce. “I am just as prepared both academically and socially.” Hardy agreed.

“The teachers here are phenomenal, especially in the history department,” he said. “Scott Berstein is my all-time favorite teacher and his World History class is what made me want to major in history. I would take that class every year if I could. Mr. Maynard is the head of the history department, and he really motivates kids about their post-high school and college plans and he is a great mentor for kids.”

According to Leslie Conley, a guidance counselor at Cranston East, it is also these students who have been great mentors and role models for their peers, even stretching back to their Park View days, where she also knew them. “These are all amazing kids,” she said. “They’ve been such an amazing presence at both Park View and East. They’ve been involved not just in academics, but they’re always the first to sign up for something, they’re always very involved whether it is through sports, music or foreign language. It speaks volumes, not just about their education, but about the fact that in today’s society, which is so impactful on kids’ lives, but sometimes not all positively, they’ve been supported, challenged and encouraged at home and at school and by themselves.”

According to Deana Golini, a guidance counselor at West, each of the students there are the first in their families to attend an Ivy League school, serving as a role model for generations to come.

As both look ahead to the futures of their students, saying good-bye for now, they know that this won’t be the last they hear of this group as they begin to make their mark on the world, both locally and globally.

“I hope these students realize that they are going to have the time of their lives,” said Conley. “They have the power to choose their own paths, and I just know that we’ll be hearing about them.”