Harvard accepts only 4% of applicants every year. Wisconsinite Destinee Ramos is one of them.
“I was never one to do things for my resume. I just love being busy, and I love being involved… I think as my resume grew by accident, I started to realize that my options were open,” says Harvard admit, Destinee Ramos.
The student researcher, JV lacrosse player, speaker, and 4.0 GPA/26 ACT student spoke for President Bill Clinton and was featured by CBS and Wall Street Journal for her team’s research on social media and health.
This week, Destinee shares takeaways and tips from applying for and getting into Harvard.
Harvard is so selective. What do you think stood out about your application?
In sixth grade, I actually applied to something called the National Student Ambassadors Summit. I actually ended up getting a full scholarship to go to Indiana and attend this event with hundreds of young leaders, student ambassadors who are also involved in the program from around the country. Six years later, I’m still involved in the program. I have gone to four National Student Ambassador Summits since then, all on full scholarships. In eighth grade, I was actually selected to attend their annual gala. They have a few kids speak at it. One of the super special guests was former President Bill Clinton. So that was insane to be able to speak in front of him about a program I had been so passionate about for so long.
Then heading into high school, I was super excited to start a program at my school because we didn’t really have a Fuel Up club at the high school. I was actually able to go to a sleep conference as a freshman in Washington, D.C. and talk with the CEO of Sleep Number about teens and sleep and how that relates to our health and how to help teens get more sleep.
The other thing was my research study. Fuel Up selected me and shipped me off to this other competition. I did it with two other girls from my team. It was: “Find a health problem in your community and try to solve it using research and wearable technology, like Fitbits.” We were actually the only team of girls. We were each given professional mentors. One of our mentors was Dr. Ahn. He works at Harvard Medical School and with the Center for Dynamical Biomarkers. He’s a super amazing guy. He taught us through research and helped us. We were really curious to see if social media actually affected our physical health and not only our mental health. So we did a social media detox on ourselves for a few days just to see how it affected our stress levels, our sleep, and our heart rate. We both increased in sleep by a lot. Not only the amount of sleep, but also the quality of sleep. We were reaching deep sleep numbers that we had never reached before just by eliminating one thing. So that was super cool. Also, our stress levels went down immensely, and we were able to see that on a physical level. That was really cool. We ended up getting second place in the competition by one point, so we knew that wasn’t the end for our journey.
We actually just recently got it fully funded. We were actually lucky enough to be in a Wall Street Journal article. So after that we were able to be on Good Morning America talking about social media. CBS has a talk show called The Doctors; we were on that, and then also their evening news show. Right now we’re just working towards our institutional review board approval for our research study and then hopefully getting on top of that.
That’s incredible! It takes so much preparation to achieve anything at the national level. Did you start your extracurricular endeavors early because you always had college in the back of your mind?
I think that I was never one to do things for my resume. I just love being busy, and I love being involved. In sixth grade, I was in a ton of clubs; I still am. I love doing things that I’m passionate about and to be able to be with my friends, working, collaborating with all sorts of different people and meeting new people through all these extracurriculars. So I think as my resume grew by accident, I started to realize that my options were open.
For underclassmen narrowing down extracurricular options, what advice do you have for them?
I love volunteering in my community. I’m super involved at Key Club. That’s been something I’ve loved to do for my community. But then I also played JV lacrosse as a junior last year. I had never picked up a lacrosse stick in my life. But I just knew I needed something to get me out of my room, to get me into a field to try something new. And I think it’s about those exciting opportunities. On my college application, being a JV lacrosse member as a junior didn’t look amazing.