The Ivy League universities are considered the crème de la crème of the United States education system – and one west Aucklander is now part of their prestigious history.
Andre Fa’aoso, 18, is the latest in a select group of Kiwis to be accepted to Yale University.
A TikTok video showing the emotional moment he and his mum found out he’d been accepted has received over 314,000 views and 61,000 likes. In the clip, Fa’aoso lets out a massive gasp as he reads his acceptance letter.
“I got into Yale! Oh my gosh, mum,” he said.
Fa’aoso told The Project his mind went blank when opened his acceptance letter.
“I was holding my breath and when I opened up the application portal and saw that status update, I just let in that massive gasp of air and I was in total shock,” he said.
“It was just pure excitement and pure shock. It was a lot to process.”
He’s the first in his family to go to university. His dad is from Tonga and moved to New Zealand about 25 years ago and his British mum has lived here for 50 years. Fa’aoso said his dad didn’t make it to high school and his mum graduated Henderson High School but didn’t pursue higher education.
“I’m endlessly grateful for my parents and for my family for what they’ve done for me, and also for the nurturance that they gave throughout my whole life, and especially now as I’ve reached this new part in my journey,” Fa’aoso said.
After Yale, he plans to get into journalism, explaining that representation in the media is something close to his heart that he’s passionate about.
“I think journalism is a very powerful tool that you can utilise, so that’s an industry I want to get into. Whether it be here in New Zealand after I graduate or America, either way, I hope it does end up that way.”
Fa’aoso ultimately hopes he can be someone that Pasifika, Māori, and rangatahi in general can look up to.
“[I want them to] realise that if they have a dream and they have a passion and they have a drive to do something, that if they want to do it then they can, because there is always a way.”
Watch Andre Fa’aoso’s interview on The Project above.