It is a story of a determined young woman
who came to this country from Costa Rica, worked hard, raised two beautiful
daughters as a single mother and made their education a top priority.
Ana Romero, who arrived in the U.S.A. 27 years ago, sat proudly among the other parents at the recent Excel Academy High School (East Boston) graduation ceremonies at Faneuil Hall’s Great Hall.
Faneuil Hall, Boston.
Ana’s twin 17-year-old daughters, who were
born five minutes apart, Natalia Calvo and Yasmine Calvo, were receiving their
diplomas, and as a result of their overall academic excellence and
contributions to their school community, were on their way to two of the
world’s most prestigious universities.
Natalia will enroll at Harvard University in
Cambridge while her sister, Yasmine, will enroll at Princeton University in New
Jersey. Both schools are members of the Ivy League.
The sisters’ journey began at the Kelley
School in Chelsea where they attended grades 1-4. Natalia and Yasmine moved on
to the Excel Academy Chelsea in the founding class and attended the charter
school through eighth grade.
“We were in separate classes all through
elementary and middle school,” said Natalia.
“I had requested separate classes because I
wanted them to be themselves,” said Ana Romero.
Onward to Excel
High School in East Boston
They remained in the Excel Academy Charter
School system, moving to a brand new high school in East Boston in the tenth
grade as members of the school’s first graduating class of 100 students.
They were certainly at the top of their class,
not only establishing their academic credentials as high honor roll students
and members of the National Honor Society, but becoming school leaders and
representatives in the Model United Nations.
History teacher and Model United Nations
advisor Kate Lints and computer science and Technology Club advisor Nora
LaCasse were their favorite teachers at Excel. The Calvo twins were co-founders
of the Technology Club.
They also praised Excel college counselor
“She’s great – we love her,” agreed the
“She’s [Repp] very patient, very
knowledgeable, she helped them through the college admissions process,” lauded
Natalia received the school’s top science
award while Yasmine received the top mathematics award and a community award.
Interestingly, both young ladies are
lifeguards at the Jordan Boys and Girls Club. They had joined the club as
“Gina [Centrella] has been really great at
connecting us to different resources,” said Natalia about the club’s executive
director. “Whenever there’s an opportunity, she always makes sure to let us
Ana Romero is very happy with her daughters’
experience at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I love the club,” said Romero. “They not
only worked there and taught the kids how to swim, but they had a great swim
coach Travis Robinette].”
“He [Robinette] put us in a scuba diving
course and we learned how to scuba dive, surf, and snorkel said Natalia.
During their careers, both sisters helped
other students with academic tutoring.
Applying to College
Natalia and Yasmine applied to several
colleges and were accepted to the best schools in America.
They learned of their acceptances to their
Ivy League schools on March 28.
Natalia, who is a Noonan Scholar and took
summer courses at Amherst, chose Harvard among five Ivy League acceptances.
Johns Hopkins, Wellesley, and Tufts were also on the sisters’ list of elite
“I liked how close the school was [to
Chelsea] – and I wanted to be close to my mom,” said Natalia, in explaining her
decision to attend Harvard. “The college has a lot of history. I remember
visiting Harvard in middle school. I remember thinking, ‘I’ll never get in
here’ – and now I’m going there, which is like – crazy.”
Yasmine talked about her decision to attend
“The first time I heard about Princeton was
from reading [Supreme Court Justice] Ana Sotomayor’s biography during summer
reading at the beginning of freshman year,” said Yasmine, who had attended the
Beaverworks summer program at MIT. “I really liked the vibe at Princeton.”
The sisters will both study Computer Science at their respective universities.
Encouragement and Support from Mom in Their Earliest Days
Ana Romero is very excited about her daughters’ future plans.
kids, they’re very grounded,” said Romero. “I have no doubt that they’re going
to succeed at college. I always encouraged them to go to high school, go to
college, get a good education, and have a good career.”
Natalia recalled how
their mother encouraged them to start thinking about college at a very young
“I remember when we were
little kids, she said, ‘you have to go college,’’ recalled Yasmine. “My sister
and I are so grateful to our mother for all the sacrifices she made.”
“Yasmine took the words
out of my mouth,” said an equally thankful Natalia.
For the first time in
August, the Calvo girls will be heading their separate ways, Natalia to
Harvard, Yasmine to Princeton.
“Hopefully we’ll beat Harvard in football,” said Yasmine, with a smile.
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