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Pueblo students chosen for Ivy League experience

Three Pueblo Magnet High School juniors have been accepted into the Arizona Ivy League Project, a two-year program that develops students' leadership and academic skills, takes them on a tour of the East Coast and prepares them to apply for and attend Ivy League institutions.

Ashley Parra, Jose Toro and Cecilia Machado were chosen from a field of 50 applicants and are the only students from Tucson accepted this year. They will attend leadership classes in Phoenix during their first year in the program and will visit eight Ivy League campuses during the trip to the East Coast in the spring. In their senior year, they will attend classes that help them apply to the universities.

All three students are excited about the trip. For Parra and Machado, it will be their first time on an airplane and their first time leaving Arizona.

"I'm most excited about seeing the campuses, the variety there," Parra said. "I'm excited about meeting the admissions officers. It's like a golden ticket."

The Arizona Ivy League Project is open to sophomores and juniors who come from an economically disadvantaged background and have at least a 3.75 grade average. The application process includes providing teacher recommendations, writing three essays and undergoing an interview with an admissions panel.

The students said hard work and focus have been essential to reaching their goals, and that hasn't always been easy. Managing their time can be a challenge.

"I have to study. I don't get to be that teenager, but I'm making myself a better opportunity," Machado said.

Toro has had similar experiences. "It's kind of a struggle to keep up our grades, studying for hours upon hours at night," he said.

All three Ivy League Project winners said teachers at Pueblo have helped and inspired them. "Coming into high school is intimidating," Toro said. "My teachers motivated me to do my best, even when I didn't think I could."

The Pueblo students will be holding fundraisers to cover the cost of the East Coast trip, where they will tour eight campuses and meet with admissions and other personnel. They can also accept tax-credit donations. See our tax credit webpages to learn more about making a donation.

Photo of Pueblo's Ivy Leaguers
Cecilia Machado, Jose Toro and Ashley Parra - Pueblo's Ivy League Project winners

About the winners:

Jose Toro
Career plans: Doctor of chiropractic
Dream school: Harvard because of its reputation, but open to all
Quote: "In the interview, they asked who our role models are. I said the Pope."

Ashley Parra

Career plans: Veterinarian (heavy on research)
Dream school: Looking for one that fits her
Quote: "My dad is really proud. I'm a first-generation college student."

Cecilia Machado

Career plans: Pediatrician
Dream school: Looking at Yale or Georgetown
Quote: "Everyone wants to go along on the trip. They want to go in my suitcase."