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Filipino student in Florida accepted into all Ivy League schools


Craig McFarland (second from the right)

Craig McFarland (second from the right)

Many overseas Filipinos sacrifice so much to offer their children greater opportunities.

Senior high-school student Craig McFarland makes his Filipina mother proud with not just one, not just two, but acceptances from all eight of the prestigious Ivy League universities in the US. The New York Times reported that the 18-year-old will graduate as the valedictorian of his high school in Jacksonville, Florida.

McFarland told The New York Times that his diligence as a student and a person came from wanting to be a good son and help his mother, Donabel Santiago, who is originally from the Philippines. “I’m very much self-motivated and driven,” he said. “I never wanted to add any additional stress to [my mother’s] life as she’s already had to sacrifice so much, so I learned to be really independent at a young age.”

His first acceptance from an Ivy League university came from Yale University in December. This was later followed by Princeton University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Dartmouth University, Cornell University, and Harvard University.

The term Ivy League technically refers to the collegiate athletic conference comprising the sports teams of the eight schools mentioned. It has over time, however, also been used to refer to those eight institutions as elite schools in terms of academics and selectivity in admissions, viewed as some of the most prestigious universities in the US.

McFarland is also reported to have gained acceptance to other high-ranking schools, including Duke University, Emory University, Georgia Tech, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford University, as well as full scholarship offers from Florida State University and the University of Florida. Beyond his college accpetances, he is also a National Merit Scholarship winner, a Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship winner, and one of 24 Ron Brown Scholar finalists receiving a $40,000 scholarship to whichever university he decides to enrol in.  

While he has yet to make a final decision, McFarland has said that he has narrowed it down to Florida State University, Harvard University, Stanford University, and Yale University. The latest QS World University Rankings have Stanford University ranked second and Harvard University ranked third top university worldwide.


But this straight-A student knows that life isn’t about rankings and grades. In a letter to his high-school principal thanking her, McFarland also writes, “While I obviously don’t deny the importance of grades and test scores, I find it more important to define yourself by more substantive metrics. You should define yourself by the friends you’ve made in high school, the number of laughs you’ve had at sleepovers, or the amount of sushi you can down in one sitting. Yes, your GPA and academic metrics are important, but should you solely define yourself by those? Never.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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