Ivy League bound!


Three students from both Patchogue-Medford and William Floyd high schools will be attending some of America’s top schools this year. Having placed in the top of their class, they are now headed to the Ivy Leagues.

(Next week will feature Patchogue-Medford School District’s Ivy League-bound students.)


William Floyd Valedictorian

Harvard University: Joshua Schultzer

Major: integrative biology


Was Ivy League or Harvard always your plan?

“Going to an Ivy League school was never my plan. I never thought in a million years that I could get into one, to be honest. Despite this, I did always hope to attend one someday. For a couple of years, my dream school was actually Cornell, only shifting to Harvard in early senior year, after researching more into the specific programs offered by each school. However, I always made sure not to get my expectations too high, and I still would have been happy with other schools that were more in the target range for me.”


How much work did it take?

“It took a pretty big deal of work to get into Harvard, yet also none at all, when looking at the big picture. It took being on top of my academics for the entirety of high school, involving myself as much as possible, taking advantage of every opportunity presented to me, and establishing myself as a leader wherever possible. My main activity, YMCA Youth and Government, is likely much of what got me into Harvard. In my four years of the program, I made countless connections, won and served two statewide officer positions, edited and revised over 40 legislative bills written by my local club members, attended the National Conference on National Affairs as a New York State delegate three times (fourth time will be this summer), competed at the National Judicial Competition once (second time will be this summer), and even served as one of the 54 students selected as 2024 YMCA Youth Advocates, where I met with congressional offices in Washington, D.C., and advocated on behalf of the YMCA. Doing that much within one program takes a lot of dedication, leadership, and effort. Between Youth and Government and the countless other clubs I have participated in and officer positions I have held, my schedule was often filled to the brim with different responsibilities. However, I’d honestly say that a lot of what got me into Harvard wasn’t from the work I did, and rather the lessons I learned from my programs. I learned a ton of skills in interpersonal communications, leadership, and mentoring, and those skills are what not only motivated me, but also allowed me to do more. Much of what I ended up doing in high school ended up being a product of my beliefs, passions, competitive nature, and desire to help others. So, I’d say that Harvard took a lot of work to get into—but I’d say that all of that work was done more for other people and for myself than for college reasons. At the end of the day, I see Harvard more as a product of my work than as something I worked for.”


Who is most proud of you?

“I can’t say for sure, but if I had to guess, it would probably be my dad. He’s seen me grow from the day I was born (as dads tend to do), and he’s watched me grow from the shyest kid on the planet to the leader I am today. My dad has seen me at every one of my lowest and highest points, so I’d have to say that he is probably the most proud. I am thankful every day that I have such a supportive and caring father, and I attribute a lot of my success to the undying care that he has treated and raised me with over the past 18 years.”


Are you the first one to go to an Ivy League school?

“I am the first one in my family to attend an Ivy League school.”


What is the cost?

“The cost of Harvard University is $86,000/year, but after generous financial aid, it will cost me $12,000/year.”


What’s your advice for people who want to go to Ivy League schools?

“My main piece of advice for anyone seeking to attend an Ivy League school is to always take every opportunity that is presented to you, but don’t take too much that you burn out. I personally have an issue with saying no to things, but I believe that such a flaw has led me to create a very full resume simply by existing and putting effort into everything I do. When I am offered a position, a spot in an organization, or something else, I always take it, as long as it isn’t too far out of my scope of interests. By doing this, I have learned to advocate for what I believe in, worked as a prop master in theater, and filled multiple new positions on youth advisory councils that were offered to me before anyone else. Take opportunities, because you will learn from them, and because one day, the lessons you learned and the work you did will help to expand your worldview and make you a better candidate for admission to the college of your dreams. And remember——don’t doubt yourself so much! If people are giving you opportunities, they clearly believe in your abilities. I often doubted myself, but I forced myself to take opportunities in spite of that doubt, and from those opportunities I learned more about myself and others than I ever could have otherwise.”

“My second piece of advice goes to every teenager that may read this—always, always be yourself. I have had the fortune of making friends and forging connections with extremely diverse groups of people by just being me. I never try to put on an image, and I just be who I truly am. I have bonded with most of my closest friends over deep conversations in which we let ourselves be vulnerable. Never try to be someone you aren’t, and never deny your emotions. People don’t want to see some fake version of you; they want to see the real version of you. If you are there for people, and you are your real self as much as possible, you will always have a crowd in your corner when you need them. Do that, and not only will you make more friends, but you will appear more genuine to teachers, advisors, and other adult figures that will extend opportunities to you as a result.”


What are your future plans?

“In the future, I hope to work as a zoologist or ecologist conducting field research for the purposes of improving conservation, environmental sustainability, and promoting our general understanding of the natural world. I also have an interest in animal behavior and psychology, and may choose to study that as well. Alongside my career, I also hope to serve as an advocate for climate policy and conservation. To achieve these means, I will be concentrating in integrative biology with a likely secondary in government during my time at Harvard. I also wish to eventually earn my master’s and maybe even a Ph.D. someday.”


Josh’s supporters:

His statewide Youth and Government director Mr. Drew Caldwell:

“We are so proud of Josh. The consistent growth he has shown over the years, his humility in constantly seeking feedback, and the kindness that is his hallmark all contribute to the impressive leader he has become. Josh cares deeply about others, and is absolutely one of the best young leaders ever to come through our program.”


His father, David Schultzer:

“Joshua is so hard working and is always seeking information. None of this was an expectation, but none of this is a surprise either. Joshua was clear about what he wanted and how he would get there. The fact that he did, it makes me extremely proud. One of the amazing things about Joshua is that every time I utter the phrase ‘I could not be more proud of him,’ he goes and does something else that makes me more proud. Having kids like Joshua, as well as his brother and sister, is a blessing as a parent. Having a kid look at his brother and say ‘Salutatorian, huh? I guess I need to beat you by being valedictorian,’ and then working so hard to make sure it happens, how could I not be gushing with pride?”


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