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Class of 2012 Typifies Academic Achievement, Pluck and Diversity

The summer before her senior year in high school, Julea Vlassakis of Abington, Massachusetts, spent nearly two months performing original research in a biophysics lab at Harvard University. In addition to her work in the lab, she attended weekly biophysics group meetings and presented her findings at each session. As a result of her research, Vlassakis is listed as first author on a paper submitted to the Journal of the American Chemical Society— a tremendous feat for a college undergraduate, let alone a high school student.

Celeste Lavin of Merion Station, Pennsylvania, graduated from high school a year early, but thatís hardly the most unusual thing about her. When she was 16 years old and looking for her first job, she discovered a lack of resources for young people in search of employment. As she began compiling information for herself, she decided to share it with her friends. Out of this idea, she and her brother started their own business: www.myfirstpaycheck.com. Since the Web site was launched in 2007, it has expanded to include Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Vlassakis and Lavin are among some 647 first–year students who will enter Smith this fall. In all, 3,771 students applied to Smith's Class of 2012, a 13 percent surge over last year's number. Of the students whose high schools report class rank, 66 percent are in the top 10 percent of their classes.

Twenty–seven percent of the class identify as students of color. Of the total, 14 percent are Asian American, 6 percent African American, 6 percent Latina and 1 percent Native American. International students represent 26 countries and make up about 8 percent of the first–year class. Korea is the top country of origin, followed by China, India, Canada, and Greece and Pakistan.

Seventeen percent of the class are first–generation students— those from families where neither parent has earned a bachelor's degree.

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