Young, Gifted & Black Series
By Taki S. Raton
On-camera meteorologist Jennifer Delgado for The Weather Channel news reported that super storm Sandy was truly a force to be reckoned with. But she was “no match” for a Long Island, New York teen who lost everything and turned disaster into success.
She is young, gifted & Black. Daria Rose has received 14 college acceptance letters to include seven of the nation’s top Ivy League schools.
The Sacred Heart High School senior has been accepted into Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, The University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Brown.
Daria did not apply to Columbia which would have topped off all eight of the nation’s Ivy campuses. Sacred Heart is located in Hampstead, New York.
While a most laudable accomplishment on its own merit, what is most remarkable about her achievement are the myriad of challenges that she and her family experienced over this past year-and-a-half.
According to a David Porter April 14, 2013 post in Huff Post Green, super storm Sandy was the deadliest hurricane in the northeastern United States in 40 years.
This mega-storm in October of 2012 visited horrific East Cost devastation principally in New York and in New Jersey and created wind gust as far west as Wisconsin and as far North as Canada.
Porter further reports that the estimated damage caused by Sandy approached $50 billion, greater than any U.S. hurricane except Katrina which in 2005 caused $108 billion in damages.
More than 650,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by Sandy and over 8 million customers lost power according to a hurricane center estimate.
Daria’s family in that year of 2012 October lost everything as a result of Hurricane Sandy’s calamitous aftermath.
Then only 15, her mother, father, and brother were forced to evacuate their home in Baldwin, New York after it was completely destroyed by fire resulting from the storm. The family’s clothes, furniture, precious photos, keepsakes, books – all gone in an instant.
Their lives were flipped upside down.
They had to move from hotel to hotel. They were able to stay at her grandmother’s house for a couple of months. But then after that momentary comfort, it was back to a hotel.
“It was hard because it’s really unpredictable when you don’t have a stable place to live,” she told ABC News. “You don’t know if you’re moving here next, or there. My mom and my dad and my family, they made me realize what was important. Stuff is just stuff. What is important is your health, education, your family.”
She threw herself into her studies and never lost sight of her dream of attending an Ivy League school.
“I definitely went through some hard times,” she reveals in a Fox News interview. “Experiencing Hurricane Sandy and losing one’s home was devastating,” she adds.
Daria further shares with Fox that her parents were a driving force in her life during this time and that her mom always told her that, “this situation is just temporary. What’s important are education and your family.”
Her mother, Katrina Brooks, says in a Renee Stoll Eyewitness News WABC-TV New York report that, “I think for the first two weeks, I was in denial. We were in disbelief.”
But Brooks said that she never lost hope and made sure that Daria remained focused on her studies.
“It’s easy to say I’m just going to lay here in a ball and cry and wallow in my own self pity,” she tells Stoll. “But I’d make sure she’d get up and put one foot in front of the other,” she adds.
Daria in the Eyewitness News on-camera interview said that, “After moving so much and meeting all these different people, I learned that I can adopt. I can adjust.”
The now 18-year-old truly turned disaster into her advantage.
She says in Charlene Adams April 19, 2015’s MailOnline that, “I was living in these small spaces. But in my head, I was able to escape into a literary world.”
She wrote about the Hurricane Sandy experience in her college application essay where she talked about the storm and how reading helped her to cope.
After more than a year, the family returned to Baldwin and moved into a new home.
“It was definitely hard. It was devastating,” she shared with Caleb Parke in an April 22, 2015 Fox Nation post.
“But through the help of my family, my friends, my teachers at school, everyone rallied around me and they supported me 100 percent,” she was proud to add.
And in all that moving around and constant readjustment, her family members were very considerate of her school priorities.
“Even when I had to study, they would know to be quiet in the small hotel rooms.”
She shares in Parke that besides family, education “is the most important thing and I love learning.” She accomplished under the circumstances an astounding achievement.
“It was kind of a distraction. But I thrived in that,” she said in Fox Nation.
All of her acceptance letters were received online on March 31.
“I went home and checked Harvard first, then Princeton and then Brown. And as they kept coming in, I was just astonished.
I couldn’t even breathe” she reveals in Stephen A. Crockett’s April 20, 2015 writing in The Root.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to go to Yale,” she says in Crockett. “But during my junior year, I stated looking at all my options, and I realized how many great schools there were out there.”
According to published accounts, Daria plans to major in political science and minor in Russian literature.
She has narrowed her choices to Harvard, Yale or Princeton although reported sentiments are leaning towards Yale.
“They are all such great schools,” she says in MailOnline. “I will try to see where I’ll fit in the best.”
Daria adds in Fox that, “I definitely want to go into the public sector and work and try to give back to my community and help others.”
The deadline to decide on a campus was Friday, May 1, 2015.
As of this YG&B feature printing, an update on her decision was not available.
But the bet is on Yale. We’ll just have to wait and see.