Small-town girl is Harvard bound

People who dream big go to Harvard University.

  • George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
  • Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
  • Ashley Judd and Matt Damon.

Brooklynn Davis wants to be an astronaut or find the cure for cancer. Makes sense to add her to the list.

  • Brooklynn Davis.

The Meridian Medical Arts Charter senior graduates this week. In August, she will leave her big family and small hometown to travel the length of the country to attend the Ivy League school in Massachusetts, whose history, influence and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

“In order to feel accomplished, I have to challenge myself,” she said.

Check off that first goal — she will be challenged.

Virtually every incoming freshman at Harvard owns a 4.0 grade point average. For that reason, Harvard doesn’t hand out academic scholarships. Instead, students earn scholarships for financial need. Brooklynn earned a full ride.

Brooklynn Davis
Brooklynn Davis with two of her teachers, Sharon Hurd and Pete Kinnaman

“They accepted me and said they’d pay for it all and I won’t pass that up,” she said.

Especially since the Davis family couldn’t afford to send Brooklynn to most any school, let alone Harvard.

Marshall Davis is a retired, wounded veteran. While deployed in Iraq, he was badly injured and has had five surgeries on his shoulder and knees.

The former Army captain is in the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit, which assists and advocates for the severely injured, but he hasn’t been able to find permanent work.

The Davises have 13 children. Their oldest, Aleksa, is at West Point Military Academy. Cortnee is in nursing school at Idaho State University. Brooklynn will be the next to leave home.

“I’m worried about going from living with my big family to that environment,” Brooklynn said. “But my Mormon religion is a big thing for me and I’m confident that I’ll meet friends through church.”

Brooklynn’s freshman class of about 3,000 has about five Mormons, she said.

“She’s worked very hard for this,” said MMACHS counselor Heidi Beers. “She wouldn’t know any other way.”

Applying and being accepted to Harvard is harder than most high school classes. She wrote multiple essays and filled out various forms. The whole process started her junior year.

On top of filling out the most complicated college application in the world, Brooklynn was enrolled at Meridian Medical Arts Charter, one of Idaho’s highest achieving high schools. Its college go-on rate is 89 percent, second highest in the state. Test results are well above the Idaho average.

“When I was little I thought I was going to cure cancer,” said Brooklynn, who went to the charter because she was interested in medicine.

Attending MMACHS piqued her interest in rigorous universities. She earned 40 college credits that would make her a sophomore at Idaho State. Harvard won’t take any of them.

“That’s OK,” Brooklynn said. “I didn’t take them to rush through college. I took them for experience.”

Brooklynn is a perfect student but also well-rounded. She’s a lifeguard at the YMCA, plays sports (her favorite is rugby) and completes a lot of community service work as a member of the mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. A scholarship from the City of Meridian will help pay for Brooklynn’s travel expenses.

“She’s extremely humble and doesn’t want to call attention to herself,” Beers said. “She’s earned this.”

Brooklynn will take a full load of classes her freshman year, participate in a work-study program as required by the scholarship and attend church functions. She won’t have her family and she’ll be far from home.

“I’m definitely nervous because I met some of my classmates and they are beyond intelligent,” she said. “But Harvard is where I should be.”

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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