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‘like having a piece of home with me’ | #teacher | #children | #kids

STAMFORD — When Stamford High School seniors Ivana Ñique, 17, and Sara Molina, 18, first became good friends in middle school, one of the things they bonded over was their mutual desire to attend a top college after they graduated high school.

Fast forward a few years, and the soon-to-be high school graduates are both headed to Yale University in the fall.

The two attended Stark Elementary School together from kindergarten and knew of each other. But it was not until they were in seventh grade at Dolan Middle School that their friendship really took off, they said, when they began having the same classes together.

The pair of friends were both born in the states — Ivana in White Plains, N.Y., and Sara in Stamford — but their parents hail from South America. Ivana’s parents are from Peru and Sara’s parents are from Colombia.

“From the very beginning we bonded over college,” Sara said, recalling that Ivana would wear a Harvard University sweater at the time. “We talked about college and where we wanted to go to.”

Ivana added, “We were always very ambitious and always very hard working.”

Harvard was a school Ivana had on her mind from a very early age. She told a story of when she was either 3 or 4 years old and visited her pediatrician for a check up. When the doctor asked Ivana what school she went to — she was attending a local pre-school at the time — she responded, “Harvard medical school.”

That love for Harvard eventually changed once Ivana researched which colleges she preferred. After attending a virtual tour of Yale, she fell in love with that institution.

“Yale just seemed so caring about their students,” she said.

Now, that Harvard sweater is somewhere hidden in her closet, she said.

The moment the pair discovered each got accepted to Yale was in December 2021; up until that point, each was worried only one of them would be accepted, they said. They had been told as much by one teacher, who told them Yale would likely not choose two students with similar qualifications from the same school, especially since both students applied early.

Sara was the first to discover she had been accepted. She received the notification at 5 p.m. Dec. 15, but waited a few hours before opening the all-important document so she could have dinner.

“I didn’t think I could eat after,” she said.

Once she got the good news, Sara thought of Ivana, who she knew was working at a downtown restaurant. But Sara decided to keep the good news to herself, fearing that her best friend would not join her at Yale.

“How do you break that to your best friend that you got into the same place that they were aspiring to?” Sara asked.

When Ivana got off of work about 11 p.m. that night, she discovered her own letter once she got home. She opened her letter with family watching over FaceTime. Jubilation ensued, and after celebrating with her family, Ivana reached out to Sara. It was about 1 a.m.

“We were just screaming on the phone for a while,” Ivana said.

The two friends, who both live in Glenbrook, not only have Stamford High and Yale in common. They each have the title of editor under their belts as well.

Ivana is an editor at “The Round Table,” Stamford High School’s digital news site. This year, she was challenged by teacher Jon Ringel to create a Spanish version of the site’s “Weekly Knightly News,” a video segment produced by students every week with news from the school.

Ivana accepted the challenge, and led the launch of “La Voz Del Sur,” which means “The Voice of the South” in English. Every week, Ivana would lead a team of about four students to create a video that usually highlighted one or two stories from Latin America with a lighthearted segment including students from the school at the end.

This year, she won a newscast award from the Connecticut Press Club.

Sara is the co-editor-in-chief of the school’s yearbook, and was tasked with everything from planning the theme and cover of the book to taking photos, writing and working on sales.

Sara said she plans on studying economics and with possibly a double major in urban studies at Yale; Ivana is currently undecided on a major and plans on taking a wide variety of classes to see what she likes, she said.

As far as what they envision for college, the two friends said they plan on avoiding each other for their first two weeks on campus, in an effort to meet new people. But eventually, they said, they’ll resume their close friendship.

“I think it will always be a very comforting feeling that you have someone you’ve know for your whole life and to have them there,” Ivana said.

Sara agreed.

“It’s like having a piece of home with me,” she said.

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