Ashley Olenkiewicz Matches with Princeton University


Hailey Holden, Former Co-Editor

With an acceptance rate of 5.5 percent, you probably would not imagine going to an Ivy League school like Princeton University. Porter High School senior Ashley Olenkiewicz did just that.

Ashley applied to Questbridge, a program for low-income, high achieving students in September 2020. Among the 18,500 applicants to the program, she was selected as one of the 6,885 finalists. After being selected, Olenkiewicz ranked 11 colleges she was interested in attending, completed supplemental essays for each college, and then had her application sent out by Questbridge. On December 1, 2020, Ashley was matched with Princeton University and received a full-ride scholarship.

“I’m extremely happy for and proud of Ashley,” English teacher Ms. Sutherland said. “I think that she is a great role model for all of PHS students, seeing how she is only the second ivy leaguer we’ve had at Porter.”

Even though she is widely considered a model student, Olenkiewicz still didn’t expect this outcome.

“I never imagined that I would be attending Princeton next fall,” Olenkiewicz said. “I applied to eleven universities and colleges knowing how competitive the applicant pools were and the slim chances of being accepted, but I still tried. I hope that other students will be encouraged by this to pursue their passions.”

Those passions, when pursued in earnest, can lead to spectacular places.

“I got really serious this year and started researching colleges,” Olenkiewicz said. “I was interested in all of the colleges that I ranked, but what I really loved about Princetown was their dedication to having a good student environment. They have a residential college system. So, they have different houses that we’re going to be staying in, similar to Hogwarts. That’s how they compare it.”

Dedication isn’t all Olenkiewicz had. She also surrounded herself with positive role models and a well-developed support system.

“My mom was definitely a really big influence,” Olenkiewicz said. “She gave me the motivation, she really made me feel like I could do it. My senior year teachers and my junior year teachers were incredibly supportive, especially Mr. Levy and Mr. Power. They both wrote a recommendation letter for me. And all the teachers that I told I was applying to Questbridge were really supportive and telling me I was gonna be able to get matched. That made me feel a lot better throughout the whole process.”

Olenkiewicz’s match can inspire other students to go out of their comfort zone and push themselves towards their dreams.

“This is something truly special, something that doesn’t happen often, and I hope that other students can see that these things are possible if you shoot for the stars and work hard, the way Ashley always has,” speech and debate coach Mr. Levy said. “It’s important to note too that Ashley did this not by being perfect, but by learning from her mistakes and working to get better at everything both in the classroom and out. I hope one day to get the chance to help another student achieve this, but for now, I’m just thrilled I get to be part of Ashley’s incredible journey.”

For many of her teachers, seeing her achieve something this big, makes them feel accomplished in some way.

“I am thrilled for Ashley,” government teacher Mr. Power said. “This is something that just makes your year as a teacher to see one of your students really succeed like this, to get this sort of recognition for her hard work.”

Congratulations Ashley Olenkiewicz for matching with Princeton University!