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ABC-7 profiles El Paso teen heading to Princeton University

Princeton University wasn’t even on Joel Fong’s radar until his uncle brought it up to him. Now, the 17-year-old El Paso High School graduate is getting ready to head to New Jersey for his first year at the university.

Fong was recently profiled in a New York Times’ article that asked students from across the country to share their college application experience. Fong was chosen out of 250 responses nationwide.

ABC-7 met up with Fong outside his alma mater to find out what he’s feeling before he embarks on his first university experience.

“I was absolutely ecstatic,” Fong said. “I mean, getting accepted into any university is an accomplishment. And to one as great as Princeton, it was deeply humbling and I was over-the-moon excited.”

Fong graduated fifth in his class of 346 students at El Paso High School. He says he has always had academic strength and was able to catch Princeton’s attention.

“Having a passion, that’s what colleges at that level look for. It can be anything, whether it be photography, sports, band, anything really.”

Before Princeton University came up, Fong only had a few universities on his radar. Of course, he applied to UTEP, plus Dartmouth College, Columbia University, St. Mary’s University and University of Texas at Austin.

“What I’m going to miss the most is that sense of community that we have in El Paso. It’s something that allows everyone to accomplish something. I’m going to miss that strong sense of home.”

Before leaving for New Jersey, Fong has some key pieces of advice for future graduates and those starting the college application process.

“Expand your world view and experience as much as possible. Yes, you’re going to be scared but would you rather be scared now or scared in 20 years when you realize you didn’t get to experience as much as you could’ve? Don’t be scared of what will happen, be scared of what won’t happen. Try and do as much as you can.”

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