Teen with cerebral palsy Matthew Myslenski got into Harvard
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Matthew Myslenski sat next to his twin sister, his stomach knotted. He was about to find out if his longtime dream of attending Harvard University had come true.
“I was so nervous,” said Matthew, 17. “I can’t eat lunch or dinner that day.”
A status update was finally posted on his app on December 15 at 7:00 PM. He anxiously clicked on it and a crowd of digital confetti instantly exploded onto his laptop screen. Matthew – who was born with cerebral palsy – would soon become a Harvard University student.
“At first I was in shock. I didn’t expect it,” said Matthew. “I was very happy.”
A video of the moment, in which Matthew and his sister Magdalena squeal with delight and share a tight hug, has gone viral on social media. Magdalena repeatedly shouts: “No way!”
Matthew Myslenski, who was born with cerebral palsy, was overjoyed after seeing his acceptance to Harvard University on December 15. (Video: Video courtesy of Julie Myslenski)
“It was pure joy,” she said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I just had a great sense of pride.”
“Even though I’m 45 minutes older,” she added, “I’ve always looked up to Matthew.”
The teenage twins are both seniors at Woodstock Academy in Woodstock, Conn., an independent school. After Mateu agreed, Magdalena sent the video to school staff, who then shared it on social media. The video has been viewed on TikTok more than 828,000 times.
“It’s so touching that so many people are listening and sharing his story,” said Holly Singleton, school associate at Woodstock Academy. “We always knew his strong determination would allow him to achieve his dreams. Harvard is just the first of many important achievements in his life.”
Doctors said she would be lucky to live to be 15. She is now 92 years old.
Although Matthew didn’t expect news of his acceptance to spread around the world, he said, he’s glad it’s happening.
“I feel good that people are seeing it,” Matthew told The Post. He hopes his admission will reinforce to others that “if you keep trying and working at it, eventually you’ll get what you want.”
Matthew’s cerebral palsy mainly affects his gait and muscle tone, he said, explaining that the disorder – which is the most common motor disability in children – does not affect him mentally.
“I’m still able to do a lot of things, but some things can take me eight times longer,” he said, adding that he walks around campus, drives a car, volunteers and participates in several school clubs. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Ever since Matthew was 6 years old, he said, attending Harvard University has been his goal. As a child, he became a frequent patient at Boston Children’s Hospital—Harvard Medical School’s flagship pediatric program.
“I always asked my doctors at the hospital. They are wonderful people,” said Matthew, who hopes to become a doctor one day. “When I found out they were affiliated with Harvard, I wanted to be a part of that.”
He knew that the road to get there, however, would not be easy at all. According to admissions statistics for the class of 2026, just over three percent of applicants were accepted. The university did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
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Sara Dziedzic, head of the English and social studies department at Woodstock Academy, who is currently Matthew’s international relations teacher, said her student’s admission brought her to tears.
“He’s unstoppable when it comes to achieving a goal,” she said, adding that Matthew is involved in student government as well as various extracurricular activities, including medical club and Model UN. all challenges with focus and has a strong desire to be successful.”
He is also in the top five percent of students in his class, Dziedzic said.
“Harvard is lucky to have him,” she said. “He will be able to do amazing things.”
Magdalena — who will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall — said her brother is “always late doing his homework” and “has only gotten two A’s in his high school career.”
Beyond being smart, she said, “he just works so hard.”
Matthew said his motivation has been the hope of being accepted to Harvard one day.
“This is what I’ve been working towards,” he said, adding that his next mission is to get accepted into medical school.
Electrical boxes were broken. A teacher and student turn them into art.
“I want to help people,” said Matthew, who plans to major in biology and chemistry. “I asked my doctors when I was younger and I want to create it for other patients.”
Until then, Matthew said, he hopes his story will inspire others to go after their goals and overcome obstacles.
“No matter what you face in life,” he said, “you can overcome anything.”
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