‘I was meant to be a nerd’: Central Texas grad earns full scholarship to Harvard
“I want to be the next face of innovation,” Anna Burgess says
LAMPASAS, Texas (KWTX) - A recent graduate from Lampasas High School who lost her mother as a young girl is headed to Harvard on a full scholarship, and said her advice to getting into one of the most prestigious universities in the world, especially from a small town, is simply “to try.”
Anna Burgess, 18, graduated Lampasas High School as valedictorian with a 5.8 GPA, but she says she thinks she was one of the 2 percent accepted more for her essays and a willingness to apply.
“I think you just try,” Burgess said. “Going somewhere like Harvard, it’s not necessarily about your score. It’s about your story. I wrote an essay about how I was going to be the next Elon Musk and be filthy rich and they accepted me.”
Anna’s story may have helped, but her grades couldn’t have hurt. She blew past a perfect 4.0 grade point average to finish Lampasas High School with a 5.8. She scored a 1510 on the SAT and a 33 on the ACT but said a calculator malfunction definitely cost her some points on the ACT.
“My calculator died, so I had to do the math portion by hand,” she laughed.
Anna’s always been a bright student and avid reader. She says she once read the entire Harry Potter series in one day while only a fifth grader.
But going to Harvard isn’t exactly a dream come true for the girl from Utah who thought she’d follow in her late mother’s footsteps at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is just down the road from Harvard in Cambridge, MA.
Anna moved to Central Texas after her mother died in 2015. Her dad wanted to be closer to family and needed the help of grandparents to help take care of Anna and her siblings.
Anna first attended San Saba Middle School in 7th grade before moving over to Lampasas schools in 8th grade.
“MIT was always my plan but neither MIT nor Cal Tech accepted me. I was going to go to Rice, but then Harvard jumped out of left field,” Anna said.
The Lampasas student didn’t even apply to Harvard until 30 minutes before applications were due. She knew the odds were stacked against her.
Anna got the surprise of a lifetime that she was Harvard-bound while competing at a school track meet.
Anna said she was happy to be with her teammates in her small town to get the big news, something she doesn’t think would have ever happened had she have not grown up in rural Texas.
“I was not meant to be an athlete, I was meant to be a nerd,” Anna joked. “But everyone in a small town is a little bit of an athlete.”
“I had just opened Berkeley and I had been accepted but they didn’t give me any scholarships, so I was bummed,” she said. “Then I opened Yale and Columbia and was rejected from Yale but wait-listed for Columbia.”
Anna then opened her acceptance email from Harvard.
She ran to tell her teammates and coaches, all who were thrilled for the small-town girl.
“I couldn’t find my friends for like five minutes and I found a whole lot of Lampasas people and my principal was excited and my coach was crying.”
Anna leaves for Harvard in August. She said her dad is sad to see her go so far away but the entire family, none outside of her mother who have ever attended college, are beaming with pride.
Anna plans to major in Mechanical Engineering and then apply for PHD program at MIT, and from there, the sky is the limit for the girl from Lampasas.
“I’m going to start eventually start my own business. I don’t know if I want to go on my own Steve Jobs track or Elon Musk track but that’s what I want to be. I want to be the next face of innovation.”
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