What's Happening In Your World

Wow: Soledad O’Brien’s Niece Has the Highest GPA at Harvard

ewopopewopewEllie Hylton is the kind of student that legends are made of.  She is graduating from Harvard University, which is enough to impress anyone.  But Ellie is special, even among Harvard graduates.  Besides graduating summa cum-laude with a degree in Sociology, this young student also has the highest GPA in her entire class.  As a result, she’s been awarded the Sophia Freund Prize.

Ellie is also described as sweet, humble and kind.  She also happens to be the niece of CNN”s Soledad O’Brien.

Ellie recently did an interview with ForHarriet.com, during which she described who she is and what she believes.  She says that both of her parents were alums of Harvard, and that she decided to attend the university after doing a visit with their track team.

My parents never pushed Harvard. I did visits at several schools during my senior year of high school, and I eventually did an overnight visit with the track team at Harvard. I really liked the people that I met during that overnight trip.

She says that despite the fact that she puts high expectations on herself, she didn’t feel any added pressure from her parents.  Her parents seemed more focused on helping her find ways to be happy and well-adjusted, rather than put pressure on her.

I never felt pressured to achieve anything because of what my parents have done. In fact, my parents almost never talked about Harvard while I was growing up. Throughout my four years of college, my mom and dad were pretty relaxed about all things academic. They encouraged me to do my best, but they never set specific expectations for me.

Ellie says that the way she managed both track and academics was by being careful with her time.  She left the track team at the end of her sophomore year due to injuries, but before that, she kept a hectic schedule.  Despite these challenges, Ellie was determined to succeed academically and be the absolute best student she could be.

I actually left the track team at the end of my sophomore year due to injuries, but before that, I relied on my experience from balancing a busy schedule in high school. I took my classes earlier in the morning, in order to free up my schedule for homework before practice. I learned to use my free time efficiently; I made a lot of very detailed “to-do” lists. I also took many classes that I enjoyed, so studying wasn’t always a miserable task.

Ellie says that the way she remained academically motivated was by finding subjects that she was passionate about.  This played a role in allowing her to study topics that she found interesting, which helped her to deal with the monotony.

 It sounds cliché, but I tried to follow the things that I was passionate about. When I started as a freshman in college, I thought that I would be pre-med. After taking a science course, I realized that I didn’t really love spending hours in the lab. When I took a course on social inequality, I was immediately hooked; I found that sociologists asked all the questions about the world that I was interested in. So, I decided to study sociology—a decision which opened up some great research opportunities for me.

Ellie says that if she could change anything about being in college, it wouldn’t be much.  She says that her toughest moment was when she left the track team.  Additionally, she says that her parents were her greatest role models in achievement.   Ellie says that her parents are organized, selfless and taught her the value of hard work.  She also has a strong interest in the racial achievement gap, making her a great new soldier in the battle for equality in America.

My parents are definitely my biggest role models. I admire how they’ve raised seven kids while both working. I can only hope to someday be as organized and selfless as they are; I’m still not sure how they do it!

The racial and socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is an issue that’s very close to my heart. Beyond working as a tutor to high school students in Boston, I also wrote my senior thesis on the academic and social experiences of minority students in a school desegregation program. I would like to continue researching the achievement gap issue, and I hope to someday help implement policies to close the many different gaps we have in this country.

You can read more of the interview here. 

19 comments

  1. As a Black Man we need to stand up a little more for our Black woman. I love you keep the good work up.

  2. Congratulations! I believe you have the right foundation in you to do great things and write the policies which will be able to close the gaps in this country. I look forward to hearing your name along the way. Be Blessed.

  3. So proud to hear that success and achievement run in the family! Most Harvard or Ivy League grads do well. She has passion, good looks, a supportive family, and brains. She will excel. Well done!

  4. I cannot believe that the Your Black World writer messed up the spelling of the award won by Soledad O’Brien’s niece because he or she thought there was something unclean in it. Clearly, he or she has no understanding of the meaning of the phrase. The term literally means “with highest honors.” The word the writer messes up means “with.” I shall write it correctly, and you will mess it up again: she was graduated summa cum laude.

  5. > WATCH MIN.FARRAKHAN EVERY SATURDAY @ 7:00pm AT
    http://www.noi.org/thetime <

  6. I received my degree in Sociology and my first job offer was for a cordinator of a federal halfway program for ex-offenders. So, yes you canget great employment with a bachelor degree in Sociology.

  7. To those asking what she will do with that degree; I say to you that she will do very well. Any degree from Harvard will land her a well paid position somewhere. In addition, Sociologist are a diverse lot suited for employment in a number of different areas.

    Well Done Young Lady!!!

  8. Congratulations on such a great honor! Not only did she graduate, but she graduated at the top of her class which is no small feat. We welcome this scholar into the battle of closing the achievement gap with our children in the education system. Education is a game changer and I hope we have young people like her who are willing to work hard and give something back to their communities.

  9. A lot of people are asking what can she do with that degree? How will she get employed? I think the key thing to hone in on is she is following her passion. If you look at this from the conventional narrative of going to college to “get a job,” perhaps the options are not plentiful. But if you look at this from the framework of one who has selflessly set an intention to contribute to creatively exploring possible solutions to one of humanity’s most pressing challenges, she made a righteous (meaning right thinking) choice. When passionate, work does not feel like work. It feels like play, a conversation you don’t want to end. And to that extent, her options are endless for her energy within resonates on a high purposeful vibration. Some options that come to mind: Subject matter expert, author, speaker, philanthropist, program director, documentarian, tv show host, film advisor, policy influencer, non-profit founder, mentor, teacher, educational leader, artist, poet, president, being a voice for the voiceless, ect. We spend an incredible amount of time at work. It’s wonderful when your values can be exercised at work. For many people, values end after they get out of church on Sunday and cease to be excercised during the week until the next service, because excercising your values, depending on what they are, at work may get you fired. Unfortunately many people do not discover their passion/purpose until much later in life, at which point, your resources/lifestyle may have changed (i.e. married with children, deep in your career, and removed from your support network) and transitioning may prove difficult. To that end, I wish her the absolute best on her journey and am thankful for her purposeful intention. To know your passion and purpose so early in the game is a blessing. This should be the goal of all public schools: To facilitate in helping children, in a safe environment, try many things in a fun way that speaks to their child nature (Dr. Christopher Emdin does this successfully with getting youth excited about science through hip hop culture, which falls within what he calls Reality Pedegogy), without punitive test, that they may discover their interest early on. That way, generations are inspired to not get a job, but explore and innovate solutions to some of humanity and the environment’s most pressing challenges. The money will follow. To my knowledge, Montessori and Waldorf pedagogy does this very well. ~Namaste

  10. a degree in sociology? who is hiring sociologists??? i hope she’s prepared to go to graduate school.

  11. Goodness sake. She said the questions that Sociologist address are questions she also had and provided her the opportunity to do research in some areas that may one day be the basis for pushing forward new legislation that will close some of the socioeconomic gaps in this country. In addition dont forget that first lady Michelle Obama also has a degree in Sociology from there she went to law school.

    Sociology is an excellent field that can be used foundationally to pursue careers that deal with large segments of the population locally and internationally.

    Well done young lady!!

  12. To the idiots, the majority of African Americans are half-breeds what hole are you just now climbing out of? Very inspiring story! Would like to see more.

  13. Sean from Brooklyn, you up tilling the land early this moanin’? I imagine you talkin’ ’bout “prawns” and not growing “pawns”. I just need to be sure before I start axing for “pawns” in the store. I’m calling bullshit on the raising chickens, though. Been there, done that. Them some nasty suckers. chickenshit everywhere.

    • SEAN FROM BROOKLYN

      WAS UP GETTING MONEY THIS MORNING AND VISITING MY PO FUK BOY.

      ACTUALLY I WAS BORN IN QUEENS AND GREW UP IN BROOKLYN BUT SPENT SUMMERS AND A COUPLE OF YEARS IN N.C.
      .
      .
      MY UNCLE(RIP) HAD A SMOKE HOUSE AND MY GRANDMOTHER(RIP) AND HER SISTER(RIP) USE TO GET CHICKENS AND LET THEM ROAM THE BACKYARD UNTIL WE WERE READY TO EAT.
      .
      .
      I USE TO PICK BLUEBERRIES (80′S) AND HELPED MY AUNT AND GRANDMOTHER GROW CORN, WATERMELON,LETTUCE,TOMATOES, AND OTHER GOOD ISH.

      SO DO NOT TELL ME FUK BOY I CANNOT DO MANUFACTURING AQUAPONICS AND FARMING BECAUSE I DID IT ALL.

  14. SEAN FROM BROOKLYN

    ANOTHER USELESS STORY
    .
    .
    .
    THIS IS STORY ABOUT HE BLACK BOULE GIVING ACCOLADES TO ANOTHER HALF BREED BOULE.
    .
    .
    . A BOYCE WATKINS WE NEED STORY’S ON THESE THINGS SIR(BELOW), AND IAM TIRED OF TALKING ABOUT IT, BECAUSE THE ROOT THE GRIO AKA THE GRINGO(PEOPLE HAVE STOLE THAT FROM ME TOO) LOOP 21,AND NEWSONE ARE USELESS. THIS IS WHY I COME HERE BOYCE.
    .
    .
    .
    MANUFACTURING
    .
    LEAVING AMERICA
    .
    CODING (YOU BUILD YOUR OWN WEBITE OR APPLICATION
    AND THEN TEACH OTHERS)
    .
    SMALL FARMING(I USE TO GROW VEGGIES AND KILL PIGS AND CHICKEN AND EAT THEM)AND IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO EAT CHICKEN AND PIGS
    .
    AQUAPONICS/HYDROPONICS/(GROW YOUR OWN FISH AND PAWNS)

    YOU UPITTY NEGROES NEED TO GET OFF THIS TRYING TO BE LIKE THE WHITE MAN AND LEARN TO START TO BUILD YOUR OWN.

  15. What does she plan to do with a degree in that field? My niece received her degree and said it was worthless, she went back and received her masters in counseling.
    counseling congrads on the honor.

  16. Very inspirational article. Love to see more like this!!!

  17. What a wonderful and interesting story!