Kayla Stewart, a 2017 graduate of the Medical Arts Academy at the Gloucester Township Campus of Camden County Technical Schools (CCTS), was accepted into five of the eight ivy league colleges.
She chose to attend Columbia University, but was also accepted into Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Rutgers University-Honors College, Boston University, and New York University. Kayla lives in Sicklerville, NJ with her family.
“I am so excited to be attending Columbia University,” Kayla said. “I haven’t finalized my major, but I’ve narrowed it down between Neuroscience or Biomedical Engineering. The main reason I attended CCTS for high school was because of the Medical Arts Academy. It was one of my favorite classes.”
“I always had an interest in medicine, but my experience in the Medical Arts program transformed that interest into a passion. The many aspects of the program helped to shape me into the person that I’ve become today and I don’t know where I would be without it,” said Kayla. “The rigor of the program prepared me for the inevitable challenges I will face in college. The teachers of the program acted as mentors, guiding me through the process of developing a love for medicine while helping me to discover my field of interest.”
“I believe my peers had a significant impact on me. I was in class with 10 of the smartest students I’ve come to know. We truly are a family,” Kayla said. “We have always supported one another and they definitely pushed me as a student. Our competitive nature led us to be constantly raising the bar, breaking boundaries and ultimately bringing out the best in one another. The fact that all of us are attending top colleges and universities is a prime example of the success of the program. I will always treasure my time in the Medical Arts Academy. There I created memories, learned invaluable lessons, gained knowledge, and formed bonds that can never be broken.”
While in high school, Kayla was a member of the Technitones Acapella Choir, Yearbook Club, Skills USA, and was a student tutor. She participated in the Science Club during her freshman and sophomore years, and said she appreciated the time to get extra help in Chemistry and Physics.
During her junior year of high school, Kayla was accepted into the elite and highly selective New Jersey Scholars Program. “NJSP is an intensive academic program for 39 of the most intelligent, outgoing, and highly motivated students,” said Eva Cetrullo, Director of School Counseling at CCTS. “Kayla was chosen based on her academic achievements, volunteer work, and commitment to education. We are all so proud of her and wish her every success as she pursues her dreams.”
“Although I plan to pursue a career in Medicine, which is a STEM related field, many of my extra-curriculars don’t really reflect that. And that’s because although I love medicine, I also really appreciate the arts. I love writing and photography and I hope to pursue those hobbies in college. Outside of school, I’m heavily involved with my church and I also did a lot of volunteer work with the American Cancer Society.”
During her time at CCTS, she earned 32 college credits at no cost to her or her family. “I am so grateful to have been given the chance to attend Camden County College (CCC) full-time during my senior year, Kayla said. “This experience sensitized and better prepared me for Columbia.”
“Outside of my peers, my biggest motivation to succeed have been my parents,” she added. “They are immigrants from Guyana, a rather small, third world country in South America. They didn’t grow up with the resources I have, and yet they were still successful. That is one of the reasons they always expected me to excel. The road wasn’t always easy. It came with a lot of sacrifices. Many times I had to turn down hanging out with friends or my parents would take away my phone to tune out any distractions.”
“One might say that this sounds like a lot of pressure, but without it, I wouldn’t have ever believed that I could achieve what I have. I’d be lying if I said that there weren’t times that I wanted to give up or throw in the towel but it’s important to always see your goals through. If I had given up, I would be in a place of deep regret instead of joy right now. I have to thank my parents because they saw so much potential in me that I didn’t see in myself,” she said. “I’m extremely happy to be able to make them proud.”
Her future goals include going to Medical School to earn her doctorate of medicine and pursue a career as a neurosurgeon. She would also like to get involved with research surrounding the development of devices that are used to regulate the body’s nervous system and detect neurological diseases.
Kayla received $280,000 in scholarships from Columbia to span across four years. “I chose Columbia for many reasons,” she said. “One is that it’s in New York City! Being a science major, I will have access to the many research facilities and labs in the surrounding area.”
Many of the schools where I was accepted are in the metropolitan area, but what really set Columbia apart for me was its outstanding curriculum,” Kayla said. “I like the core curriculum that Columbia offers because it ensures that students are really experiencing breadth and depth when it comes to learning. I want to learn as much as I possibly can and I think Columbia is the school that will really help facilitate that. I’m the type of student that looks at things very critically. I’m always forming questions in my mind when I’m learning something, and I need to get to the root of every subject in order to fully understand it. I know I will leave Columbia, just as I left Camden County Technical Schools, as a much more knowledgeable and well-rounded person.”
Congratulations Kayla! You Rock!