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Plum senior now Harvard-bound

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Jazmine Phillips-Acie, a Plum High School senior, found out she had been accepted at Harvard for the fall semester. She credits her math teacher, Ed Staines, with influencing her academically.
Jazmine Phillips-Acie, a Plum High School senior, found out she had been accepted at Harvard for the fall semester. She credits her math teacher, Ed Staines, with influencing her academically.

Many children talk about what they would like to do when they grow up.

Jazmine Phillips-Acie — at the age of 8 — not only knew she wanted to be a lawyer, but she picked Harvard University as her destination for college.

Phillips-Acie, 18, a senior at Plum High School, is set to make both dreams a reality this fall after learning on Dec. 13 that she was accepted at Harvard for the fall semester.

“I was so excited that I started to scream and dance,” Phillips-Acie said.

Phillips-Acie, who transferred to Plum High School when she was a sophomore after attending the Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School, on Jan. 2 had the opportunity to interact with Harvard alumni and a handful of other high school seniors from Western Pennsylvania who also are Harvard-bound during a reception at the Allegheny HYP (Harvard Yale Princeton) Club in downtown Pittsburgh.

Plum High School math teacher Ed Staines, who accompanied Phillips-Acie and her family to the reception at Phillips-Acie's request, said he doesn't know of any Plum High School students attending Harvard in his 18-year tenure with the district.

“I enjoyed it very much,” said Phillips-Acie who this semester is enrolled in seven advanced placement courses at the high school.

“We talked about the school (Harvard), and I asked the alumni about their experiences. I visited (Harvard) last February. It is a beautiful campus. We walked over to the law school. It really affirmed the fact that Harvard is home for me.”

Phillips-Acie said she decided to invite Staines to the reception because of his positive influence.

“He is one of the most impactful teachers,” Phillips-Acie said.

Staines, who taught Phillips-Acie advanced pre-calculus and trigonometry and advanced placement calculus 1, said he was honored to be invited to the reception.

“It (the Allegheny HYP) is a little brick building in the middle of town,” Staines said.

“There are pictures of the Yale and Princeton football teams on the walls. It was an intimate, warm setting.”

Staines enjoyed speaking with the Harvard alumni who attended as well as Phillips-Acie's family members.

“They are so proud of her,” Staines said. “Jazmine is very focused and driven, and she is a good worker. She is going to do great.”

Harvard, founded in 1636, is an Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Mass.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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