BRUNSWICK: Selena Pasadyn said it’s only “a little scary” to think of moving away from home and starting Harvard this fall as a 16-year-old.
Pasadyn already has met the university’s cross country coaches and some of her future teammates and has been emailing other freshman recruits, “so that will definitely ease the transition,” the Brunswick High School graduate and 2012 Beacon Journal Star Student said.
Besides, ever since she went directly from kindergarten to second grade at the age of 5, she’s used to being youngest among her peers.
“I’ve essentially grow up that way, so it won’t be too much of an adjustment,” she said.
Pasadyn’s schedule at Harvard, where she wants to study biochemistry, might not be all that different from this past year.
On a typical school day, Pasadyn would wake at 6:30 a.m., put in a full day of school with no study hall or lunch period, put in three hours of afternoon training for cross country, swimming or track (depending on the season), and return home by 6 p.m. to study and finish her homework.
Weekends were filled with sports meets, volunteering at Medina General Hospital and being an altar server at her church for Sunday Mass.
The most challenging thing Pasadyn has faced?
“Just juggling everything. ... Sometimes it got stressful,” she acknowledged. But not enough to give up anything.
Pasadyn said sports are “a nice way to relax and unwind after the school day. It’s a break between the hard work at school and study time at home.”
Those relaxing afternoons translated into a Division I state championship for the girls cross country team last fall and school records for Pasadyn in cross country (3.1 miles), five swimming events (500-yard freestyle, 200 individual medley, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay) and two track events (3,200 meters and 1,600).
Also, where academics are often a solitary pursuit, sports are “a nice way to be part of a team and work together,” she said.
Pasadyn is also part of a team at home, where she lives with mom Jeannine, dad Leon, and three younger sisters, Vanessa, Cassandra and Felicia.
“We’re definitely all busy, and sometimes we can’t attend each other’s activities, but we try to when we can,” she said.
Pasadyn said she takes her big sister role seriously.
“I definitely want to be a good role model for them,” she said, and her sisters seem to be following her lead. They are all involved in swimming, are in advanced programs at school, are altar servers at church, and — like their sister — two of them skipped a grade.
Pasadyn finished No. 1 in a class of 574, carrying a 4.7 grade-point average.
Her resume is packed with awards and recognition, but she doesn’t hesitate to name her favorite: the Wendy’s High School Heisman National Winner, which is based on achievement in athletics, academics and volunteerism.
Of 48,000 applicants, Pasadyn was one of 12 finalists flown to New York in December for the announcement of the winners. It was there that she was named the top female student in America.
Her selection didn’t surprise Brunswick High Principal Tracy Wheeler.
Pasadyn “is a one-of-a-kind kid who stands out in a crowd,” he said in nominating her for a Star Student award. “Getting to know Selena personally has made me respect and admire her.”
Swimming coach Erin Crabtree also sees the leadership skills that have brought Pasadyn so far in her 16 years, which caused teammates to nominate her as team captain in all three of her sports.
“I am greatly going to miss having Selena around on a daily basis,” Crabtree wrote in her nomination letter, “but I know she will go out into the world and touch others’ lives in the positive way she has touched so many here, including mine, at Brunswick High School.”