Nicole Sarvis Takes Harvard by Storm

Sarvis with two friends before formal last year in Annenberg, Harvard's freshmen dining hall famous for its architecture, which resembles something out of Harry Potter.  PHOTO / NICOLE SARVIS
Sarvis with two friends before formal last year in Annenberg, Harvard’s freshmen dining hall famous for its architecture, which resembles something out of Harry Potter. PHOTO / NICOLE SARVIS

Studying at Harvard is just a dream for many, but it’s reality to Seaholm grad Nicole Sarvis.

As a sophomore at the highly regarded Harvard University, Sarvis is taking courses in bio-chem, romantic literature, sociology, and French with a concentration in Human Evolutionary Biology. She is also hoping to get a secondary minor in Visual and Environmental Studies with a focus on Studio Art.

As hard as that sounds, Sarvis says she’s doing great.

“Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “I guess I was pretty nervous about classes and the workload. In that aspect, my professors last fall all proved to be much more kind and personable than I expected them to be, the workload was manageable, and the atmosphere was much less competitive than I had imagined.”

Seaholm teacher Barbara Harte, who taught Sarvis AP Government, believes that she was on the right path since the beginning.

“She was a very engaged student, she really cared about participating in class and she had strong opinions on things,” said Harte. “Enthusiastic is probably the best description of her.”

Harte’s advice for Sarvis is simple. Stop worrying.

“I think a lot of students, especially really talented ones, especially a kid who ends up at Harvard, you’re no slouch,” Harte said. “Someone told me last year when I was stressing about something that 95 percent of everything we worry about never happens. So if she could just keep that in mind, and keep the stress level down, she’ll be healthier and happier in the long run.”

Harvard University and Princeton University remained tied for the top spot in this year’s list of Best National Universities in the 2013 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges. Harvard is known for its world-class faculty, high-level research, state-of-the-art facilities, and free tuition for students from families with modest income.

Sarvis was so stunned when she was accepted to the number one school in the country that she thought she might be dreaming.

“There were thousands of students who applied, and all of these students were incredibly talented,” she said. “I never really thought that I would be part of the 6.2% that was accepted, so the night I got the email informing me that I got in, I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought if I did, I would wake up only to find out that it was all a dream.”

Her mother, Deanna Sarvis, feels the same way.

“We both cried,” Deanna Sarvis said. “We were in shock and it was very emotional. We both cried when she got in and it was a really huge moment and we were both thrilled and our whole family was thrilled for her.”

The only downside that comes with Sarvis going to Harvard is the distance from Michigan.

“It is hard for her to get home. Last year she only came home twice. She came home at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Deanna Sarvis said. “It is tough because flights are expensive. Her grades have been good and she’s adjusted really well. Sometimes she does get homesick but I think that’s normal.”

When comparing Seaholm and Harvard, Sarvis says, the level of commitment is much higher and she spends an average of about one to two hours studying for each class every night.

“The main difference is the amount of work. The same things that we would spend three or four weeks learning at Seaholm, we cover in about 30 minutes here. However, I feel Seaholm prepared me exceedingly well for Harvard, especially when it came to writing essays.”

Harvard doesn’t just include rigorous academics. With over 400 official student organizations including extra-curriculars, co-curricular and athletic opportunities, students are active beyond campus. During Sarvis’ freshman year at Harvard, she was invovled with the First Year Social Committee which planned the dances and other social events and she later became a member of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. In the Spring, she walked on the women’s varsity crew team for a few months. This year, Sarvis has been focusing on her job at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, where she works as the Event Assistant.

Making new friends at Harvard has been a big part of her experience as well.

“I have met so many incredible new people. While at Seaholm, I never would have dreamed of having the opportunity to be friends with people from such different places. For example, my roommates, who are some of my closest friends, are from Florida, Puerto Rico, China, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Georgia, and they are all incredibly nice, intelligent, fun and driven,” Sarvis said. “Hearing us all talking together in the dining hall is always pretty funny because we all have such different accents.”

As far as career choices go, Sarvis still is unsure because there are too many things she would like to do.

“I just want her to be happy,” Deanna Sarvis said. “Whatever she wants to do, I just want her to be happy.”

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