Viego has “the right stuff” Anyone who knows Skaneateles High School valedictorian Vincent Viego can tell he has “the right stuff,” and every Ivy League school seems to have figured it out as well.
One-by-one, eight Ivy League universities said yes to Viego. Via phone, email and official letter over the past two months, Viego has been accepted into Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania and Yale. And also, to name a few: Stanford, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Emory, Johns Hopkins and Tufts.
Tuesday afternoon, he opened a pile of big envelopes, filled with the official invitations, while his mother looked on.
The biggest moment of all, perhaps, was last Thursday – the day that all of the schools posted acceptances. He opened them one-by-one, having not yet heard from several. He got one “yes” after another, and purposely saved Harvard for last.
While this isn’t a huge surprise to people who know Viego and call him “the real deal,” it has stunned Viego, who says he feels “shock, gratefulness and an overwhelming sense of happiness.” The biggest joy, he says, comes in knowing “that all my hard work has paid off.”
Yes, as anyone who has almost perfect grades and test scores, Viego is smart. But, he says, humbly, “Skaneateles has lots of students who are smart.” He attributes his success to his work ethic. He says he has always been driven. “It has always been a part of me.” He never goes to bed without having his homework done, he said, and no matter what time that is, he still rises at 5 a.m. to prepare for his day. He gave up participation in some sports and after school activities throughout high school to focus on academics.
His role model and inspiration is his father, Adrian Viego, who died when Vincent and his twin brother Anthony were just five years old.
Vincent has a plaque in his room from the Smithsonian about his father. “I wanted to live up to him,” he said.
Over the next couple of weeks, Viego plans to visit Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and others before making a final decision. He plans to study biomedical engineering. Next year his brother Anthony will be attending Cornell to study electrical engineering.
“Vincent is the type of student who makes everyone around him better and prepared because of his tremendous work ethic and passion for learning,” said High School Principal Gregory Santoro.
Viego’s high school counselor, Mary Lou Ingram, said:
“In typical fashion, Vinny did it. He did what we implore students to do to ensure that they set themselves apart from all the other students who submit seemingly perfect transcripts to the most competitive of college institutions. He answered Harvard’s question…and Yale’s question, and Princeton’s question…he answered the ‘So what.’ ‘So what’ you have a perfect transcript Vincent…tell us what makes you different. In his essay Vinny revealed his personal side. Every college that accepted him was able to see that his EQ is just as high as his IQ. He is humble, sweet, authentic, polite, engaging and respectful. I have never met with this young man when he has not had a huge smile and the politest of greetings and his exits are always laden with gratitude for my help. Having worked with high school students for almost 20 years, I know how extremely important it is for students to be good people and to be able to navigate in the real world and communicate effectively. Vinny’s warm, receptive nature is by far one of his most prized attributes and certainly has been a factor in his overall success as student in our high school.”