A Rhondda Cynon Taf student is following his dream and is heading to Harvard University in America to continue his studies.
Steffan Dylan Jones, aged 19, is a former pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, and all the staff and his friends at school are delighted he has been accepted to study at one of the most prestigious sports colleges and university complexes in the world.
Steffan, a Welsh athletics champion and former Nos Galan support runner, was one of just 2,015 students worldwide to gain a place at Harvard University out of 40,248 applicants.
As well as studying four A Levels and the Welsh Baccalaureate at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, Steffan also found the time to study a Diploma in Sporting Excellence (Loughborough College) and revised and completed his SAT exam, scoring 1,320 which placed him in the top 90th percentile out of the 1.7M test takers.
Steffan, a former pupil at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Aberdar and a 2015 Nos Galan support runner for Colin Jackson, also trains five times a week and was ranked No4 in the UK and was ‘on track’ to represent Team GB in the Youth World Championships this year, had it not been for the global pandemic.
He is now set to study at the world-famous Harvard University campus in Massachusetts, which was founded in 1636, and cannot wait to walk through those doors for the very first time.
Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said:
“I am delighted that Steffan has been accepted to continue his studies at Harvard. This is an amazing achievement for him and his family, but also a great testament to all of this teachers and coaches who are helping him reach his full potential.
“Steffan has already achieved so much in the classroom and on the running track and we wish him well as he continues his academic and sporting journey in America.”
Steffan’s parents Simon and Angela, and older sister Ffion Wen, a former Head Girl at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, are so proud of his achievement, while Steffan himself has nothing but praise for the support of his family, friends and teachers over the years.
“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to study and compete in the USA at one of the finest universities in the world. I cannot wait until August when I will be able to train at Harvard’s amazing facilities and compete in the world-famous Ivy League.
“I’m massively grateful to all my teachers throughout my time in school, who not only made my school years enjoyable but who also helped me achieve the grades I needed to secure my place at such a prestigious university and supported me in all of my endeavours, helping me to achieve my dream.”
Lisa Williams, Headteacher at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, said: “Steffan is an incredibly able and talented student. We are all proud of his accomplishments, which include representing his country and achieving excellent GCSE and A Level results with us at YG Rhydywaun. Added to this, he is a young man of strong character with great personal qualities.
“Steffan is a role-model and a student who others can look up to. I know that he is very grateful to the teachers at Rhydywaun and we all wish him every success for the future, knowing that he will make the most of all of the opportunities he gets while studying at Harvard University.”
Steffan has always loved athletics and his talent was recognised at a young age, when he joined Aberdare Valley Amateur Athletics Club. Now running for Swansea Harriers, he has competed in and won many tournaments to date for both his home town, his county and his country.
Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is highly selective, with fewer than five per cent of applicants being offered admission in recent years.
Harvard has produced many distinguished alumni, including high-ranking politicians, renowned scholars, and business leaders. Famous past students include former USA Presidents Barack Obama, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt and George W Bush.
Other famous people to have been educated at Harvard include Microsoft Corporation co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, poet/playwright T S Eliot and composer Leonard Bernstein.
Harvard prides itself on its sporting facilities, in particular athletics, with Harvard Crimson, the official athletics teams of Harvard, having 42 intercollegiate teams in the NCAA Division and Ivy League.
Cenwyn Brain, assistant headteacher at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, said: “I have had the privilege to watch Steffan’s development over the past years. He is an outstanding student in many respects, most notably, his academic and sporting prowess. Yet he remains a humble, down-to-earth student who is always eager to help others.
“His commitment and dedication, both in the classroom and on the track, truly reflects both his determination and his ability to excel in his glittering future. His work ethic is second to none and it is difficult to imagine a more conscientious, hard-working student.
“Steffan has always shown a real passion for sport and was eager to inspire the same enthusiasm in others, coaching younger pupils at school and passing his expertise on to the younger students.”