New Haven student’s improbable path to Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — David Guzhnay’s parents knew the power of a good education — even if they didn’t reach the highest levels of academia themselves.

“My mom, she graduated high school but she didn’t go off to college,” Guzhnay said. “My dad, he only had a middle school education. So I guess throughout my life they were always saying go to college, keep furthering your education.”

And now about 20 years after his parents moved from Ecuador to the Fair Haven section of New Haven — where only one out of 10 adults have a college degree – Guzhnay is headed to one of the most prestigious schools in the country.

“In order to improve my future, my family’s future, and my community’s future, this fall in 2014 I can start calling this place home,” Guzhnay said Wednesday at his Amistad High School graduation ceremony as he held up some Ivy League apparel. “For I will be attending Yale University.”

The senior was accepted to every school to which he applied, including Columbia, Wesleyan and Boston College. Guzhnay is still undecided on a major but is leaning toward premed.

“He comes to school and he’s got a mission which is to get a great education and that’s what he does,” says principal Chris Bostok. “He’s super thoughtful and really reflective and he’s incredibly humble.”

All the seniors at the New Haven charter school are pursuing higher education. But Guzhnay is a standout among standouts. And much is owed to his parents who came to the United States without even knowing English.

Guzhnay’s older sister was the first in the family to go to college. After him, his younger brother is next. Guzhnay also hopes his story inspires other kids like him to make it out of the city’s tough neighborhoods.

“Hopefully I am a role model to other youth, to my brother, to my younger cousins,” he said.

Darren Kramer reporting

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