Cullman’s Peetz earns full ride to Yale  

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Sophie Peetz (contributed)

CULLMAN, Ala. – For Cullman High School student Sophie Peetz, Yale University was always a dream, never even close to fathomable – in her own words, at least. However, for the educators in her life who fostered her interest in health sciences and her family who supported her every step of the way, it came as no surprise when Peetz learned she earned a full ride scholarship to the Ivy League school. 

“I became so drawn to the school because of its holistic education – students are encouraged to take classes outside of their major and learn a variety of topics,” explained Peetz, sharing that Yale also acts as a fast-track for opportunities after graduation for students of its pre-med program, her track of study.  

Discussing the impact her family had on the dream, she credits her mom with much of her learned resilience and persistence, translating not just to her impressive academic resume, but also how she carries herself in her day-to-day life. 

“She never pushed expectations of going to a ‘prestigious’ school on me; I had the dream, and she continually supported me throughout the journey,” Peetz said. She also credited several local educators for fostering a love for learning and understanding and nurturing an interest in health and medical sciences that led her to this path. 

“Mrs. (Stacey) Tankersley nourished my love for the health sciences and I have been forever grateful for what she’s taught me over the past four years. Other teachers like Mrs. (Gina) Nix and Mrs. (Elizabeth) Pylant have not only been some of the greatest educators, but also mentors,” explained Peetz. “I can go through and name every single one of my teachers, and would not have enough words to describe the profound impact they’ve had on me. Truly, I have been forever blessed by the teachers in my life!” 

Peetz maintained that the application process was more than just filling out forms; it was years of dedication to prove that she had the gumption to make it in an Ivy League setting. A mindset shift, however, was also needed to translate herself to paper in a way that Yale admissions could understand. 

“Leading up to the deadline the most important thing was to take on an introspective mindset and examine myself and my values,” she said. “That way, I was able to translate that to my application through my essays.” 

In a moment she recalled as surreal, with her heart rate soaring over 190, Peetz ripped open the decision letter at Cullman High School and found out she was awarded a full scholarship to Yale – no small sum, since a Yale scholarship can vary from a few hundred dollars to over $70,000 per year. 

“I was stunned for days and I still don’t think it has set in. Reminiscing on that moment feels like I’m watching a movie!” she laughed.  

Peetz said she’s looking forward to the challenge of adjusting to Ivy League life, and perhaps more than just growing academically, she’s excited at the prospect of meeting a diverse group of peers.  

“The thing about Yale is that their student body is made up of students from every state and numerous countries,” she said. “I am ecstatic to converse and learn about people from all walks of life.” 

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