Yelizaveta Hernandez, a Quakertown Community High School senior, has been recognized by the College Board for her academic success.
A straight‑A student, Yelizaveta received the College Board National Hispanic Recognition Award and National Rural and Small Town Recognition Award for having a grade point average above 3.5 while scoring in the top 10 percent of Pennsylvania students on the PSAT.
“I’ve been applying for so many online scholarships to help pay for college, so when you win something it’s kind of surprising,” she said. “I didn’t expect it. I guess my hard work kind of paid off.”
Yelizaveta’s 1210 on the PSAT is well above the national average of 920. Her SAT score, 1430, also outpaces the national average of 1050.
“I can’t think of another student who deserves this as much as she does,” said Erica Henry, Yelizaveta’s school counselor. “Yelizaveta is a force to be reckoned with in her own quiet way. She is an exceptional student and person overall. She always strives to do her best and is a very inquisitive learner, always seeking answers and knowledge. She is incredibly self-motivated and I have yet to see any obstacle disrupt her from her goals.”
During her high school career, she has taken nine Advanced Placement classes, including three this semester: Economics, Government and Statistics, helping to boost her weighted GPA to 4.34.
In addition to her academic accomplishments, Yelizaveta is involved in many activities both in and out of school. A field hockey player, she’s also a member of Student Council, Class Council, Future Business Leaders of America, National Honor Society, and InspireED. Outside of school, Yelizaveta is a volunteer at St. Luke’s Upper Bucks Hospital, Last Chance Ranch, and a Russian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia. She also works part-time at Wawa.
Michael Sandler, Student Council advisor and Social Studies teacher, shared a letter of recommendation he wrote for Yelizaveta to include in her college applications. He states:
“Yelizaveta is the type of student teachers hope is in all of their classes. She is always prepared, attentive, insightful, and an exceptional writer. Hers are the essays you read first so that you know where the bar should be set for the rest of the students because you know it cannot get better. She values her education deeply and consistently shows this in the classroom by submitting high-quality work on time every time, as well as participating thoughtfully, meaningfully, and respectfully, in class discussions. … One of the best parts about Yelizaveta’s participation is that she often brought an interesting perspective to the class as someone having immediate family from a foreign country. Yelizaveta is a true asset to a classroom. I am lucky to have had her as a student.”
As Mr. Sandler points out, Yelizaveta’s writing and speaking talents are apparent. She has won both the Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest and Rotary Club speech contest. “That was a lot of work but certainly worth the effort,” she said. “I’m a perfectionist. It’s like I’m never done. ‘How can I get better? How can I improve even more?’ “
Yelizaveta has an interesting background that has encouraged her to speak Russian and Spanish, in addition to English. Her mom, Elena, is Russian, and her dad, Pedro, is Cuban.
Yelizaveta was born in Honolulu, and has lived in Georgia and Florida before coming to Pennsylvania when she was in eighth grade and enrolled in Strayer Middle School. Mr. Hernandez, an Army veteran, was deployed to Iraq.
“I’ve lived a lot of cultures,” she said.
If she has her way, that will continue in college and after graduation as she studies for a career in international relations. She said her background and Mr. Sandler’s U.S. History Honors class inspired that decision. “Russia and the U.S. have different perspectives, and I appreciate the way Mr. Sandler handled those discussions,” Yelizaveta said.
So far, she has been accepted to Penn State and Suffolk University in Boston, which has a campus in Madrid. Early Action schools she expects to hear from by February 1 include Virginia, Northeastern, and the University of North Carolina. Other schools she’s considering are Brown, Boston University, George Washington, Tufts, and Yale.
Yelizaveta said she’s “saddened” that there’s often tension in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia. “Every country has good and bad things. Russia is a very beautiful country,” she said. “Its metros look like museums. The architecture is very pretty. The news media always focuses on bad things. I want to learn beyond what the news shows. I don’t want to rely on what the Internet tells me.”