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Jamaican teen creates history at US high school

Published:Thursday | December 24, 2020 | 12:06 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Kimberly Cross.
Kimberly Cross.

Seventeen-year-old Kimberly Cross, a Jamaican now attending East Orange Campus High School in New Jersey, United States, has made history by being the first student from the institution to be accepted to an Ivy League university.

Cross received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Princeton University, starting September 2021.

Having attended the Immaculate Conception High School in Jamaica up to grade 10, she migrated to New Jersey, where she now stands out as a model student with a perfect GPA of 4.0.

Her mother, Kay Clarke, told The Gleaner that she faced economic and other challenges as she raised her only child, but despite the hardships, Kimberly kept her eyes fixed on her educational goals.

“She is my only child and I work my heart out to take care of her,” said Clarke, who said she was brought to tears when Kimberly was interviewed by members of the school board on her achievements.

When asked to describe herself during that interview, Clarke said that her daughter said she was “phenomenal and tough”.

Kimberly has earned the respect and admiration of the school and the wider community in East Orange after receiving glowing accolades for not only her excellent academic accomplishments but her plethora of extracurricular exploits.

Having spent little more than a year at her new school in New Jersey, Kimberly said she scored straight As in every subject.

As she anticipates starting her journey at Princeton University, Kimberly said she was “very excited about it”.

Academics is just a fraction of Kimberly’s daily activities as the young woman immerses herself in several areas she finds fulfilling.

Kimberly is a part of the East Orange Campus Debating Society and is a member of the Gifted and Talented Programme at the institution.

She holds the position of president of the Spanish Honours Society, and in her spare time, Kimberly writes poems.

“One of my goals right now is to put together a collection of my poems and make it into a book to be like an author on the side,” she told The Gleaner.

Before the onset of COVID-19, the young academic was also involved in track and field at her school.

“I don’t even know how I did it, but I had no choice but to be successful and keep my grades up. I promised myself that I would not let my grades drop because of extracurricular activities or other things I was doing,” she said.

Kimberly is a part of the East Orange Campus Social Justice Union, which seeks to educate, empower and inspire the community about social justice, issues related to police abuse and racial inequalities.

“The last thing I did was to help package and distribute food for people during Thanksgiving who could not afford a meal,” she said.

Kimberly plans to major in biology at Princeton with consideration of political science as a minor area of study.

Asked about her career path, the young scholar said “that’s a tough one”, noting that she will decide on one of the two areas in time to come.