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How does one rise to the top at Harvard? This is a university where the best and the brightest from around the world gather to be even more excellent than the next. Graduating senior, Ethel “Ellie” Hylton has certainly figured out a way to stand out from the impressive crowd at Harvard. This stunning Black woman has managed to graduate from the Ivy League as Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Sociology and was given the Sophia Freund prize–something that is given to the student with the highest overall GPA in her graduating class. (Reports have not show the numeric value of Hylton’s GPA.) Hylton was also inducted into the uber-exclusive Phi Beta Kappa Society last fall.

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Phi Beta Kappa doesn’t just induct anyone. Hylton is among great company, like Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Ricand Tom Brokaw to name drop a few. The level of excellence is this society boasts intellectual integrity, tolerance for other views and a broad range of academic interests. Hylton was chosen as the one graduating senior out of one hundred to be inducted.

For Harriet scored an interview with Hylton and she had this to say about success inside and outside the classroom:

“It sounds cliché, but I tried to follow the things that I was passionate about. When I started as a freshman in college, I thought that I would be pre-med. After taking a science course, I realized that I didn’t really love spending hours in the lab. When I took a course on social inequality, I was immediately hooked; I found that sociologists asked all the questions about the world that I was interested in. So, I decided to study sociology—a decision which opened up some great research opportunities for me. I think it’s important to follow the issues that excite you. Pursue the questions that keep you up at night (for a good reason), rather than the ones that feel like a burden to answer.”

What’s even more impressive about Ellie Hylton? Greatness runs in the family! Her mom also went to Harvard and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1982. Now that you’re feeling inspired, how will you achieve your own piece of greatness today?

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