ONEKAMA -- Any person who talks with Onekama
High School senior Anna Veverica for the first time will quickly get the
impression that she is a very down to earth teenager who has her
priorities straight, and an eye on all the possibilities that lie ahead
in the future.
Becomes First From School to be Accepted
Manistee News Advocate
Veverica has excelled in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in
community projects during her time at Onekama Schools. She is the type
of student that educators love to point to as an example to younger
children, and someone everyone wants to see succeed in future endeavors.
Like most of her peers, Veverica was planning for the future prior to
the start of her senior year with her parents Connie and Joseph Veverica.
Her mind was focused in on what college she would attend next fall, and
was leaning toward either Michigan State or Grand Valley State to study
a pre-med curriculum. However, something transpired straight out of a
Hollywood movie for this small town girl after she took her PSAT college
Veverica scored a 214 on the test, which put her in the 99th percentile,
and in with some extremely elite academic company. Now, instead of her
making the effort to find out information about colleges, they were
suddenly knocking at her door to recruit her to attend their university.
It was an incredible story that eventually
led her down the path to being accepted to the prestigious Harvard
University where she will attend classes next year. However, what
stunned Veverica was what transpired between the PSAT test and receiving
the acceptance letter from Harvard.
“After I took my PSAT, I started getting letters from all these
different colleges all across the country,” said Veverica. “The college
board gives out the scores to the colleges, so if you are above a
certain score, it attracts the attention of colleges. \Colleges have
that information, and they send out letters to get you to apply to their
Veverica said her first shock was when she came home from school one day
and saw a letter addressed to her from Yale University. It was something
that she never expected would happen, even though she was an exceptional
student and the class valedictorian this year.
“I was very surprised when the first letter I got was from Yale,” said
Veverica. “I just kind of stood there for a while staring at the
envelope, because I couldn’t believe it.”
If seeing was believing, than the point became very clear over the next
few weeks, as that letter was followed up by others from the best
schools in the country. It was something that Veverica never dreamed
about months ago when pondering her future prior the start of her senior
“After the PSAT scores were released, I got a letter from all the Ivy
League Schools, except for Dartmouth and Brown,” said Veverica.
When the one from Harvard arrived, it hit a nerve with Veverica, because
she knew at that point that the best of the best were recruiting her.
“It ranks as one of the best schools in the country, and growing up you
always hear about Harvard being the biggest, and the best school,” said
Veverica. “It was something I had in the back of my mind where I would
like to go to school.”
Veverica said her parents have been very supportive and extremely proud
of her throughout the process. She then added with a laugh, that her
mother didn’t think at first it would be possible for a small town girl
to get accepted into Harvard. However, the day the acceptance letter
arrived they were all celebrating the occasion.
“It was definitely nice, and they say the acceptance letters don’t mean
much, but it was definitely a confidence booster for me,” said Veverica.
What she also didn’t expect was Harvard sent her a plane ticket prior to
applying to come and visit their campus. The whole experience was an
eye-opening one for the Onekama senior.
“It was amazing as the campus was gorgeous, and the people were friendly
and helpful,” said Veverica. “I had a room host who took me around the
campus, and brought me into Boston to show me the city, so it was really
“I was there on a weekend, but got to see what a student’s life was
like. I was kind of nervous at first at what I would find, because it
was such a huge school, but they made me feel very comfortable.”
Friends, teachers, and others in Onekama were
not surprised at the news that she was accepted at Harvard. It is
something that her former science teacher and track coach, Mickey Story
knew she was capable of achieving when he wrote a letter in support of
Anna for Elks Teen of the Month.
“I have taught science to Onekama High School
students for 31 years,” wrote Story. “In my 31 years of teaching Anna
Veverica is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ students. She ranks among
the top five students I’ve ever had in all my science classes.
“Behind those letter grades and impressive test scores lies a natural
learner with outstanding character traits.”
He said she not only excelled in the classroom, but on the athletic
field as well. It is all a part of an outstanding work ethic. “As an
athlete, Anna is a talented runner who has worked very hard in both
cross county and track to achieve her personal best,” wrote Story. “As a
track coach for over 25 years, I believe it’s rare to find a student so
well-rounded, pursuing excellence in every endeavor both in and out of
Onekama principal Gina Hagen echoed those sentiments about the first
Onekama student ever to attend an Ivy League School.
“I could not be more proud of Anna,” said Hagen. “She is one of the
hardest working, most dedicated students I have ever met, and she is
truly worthy of this honor.”
Veverica also has been very active in many
other activities during her high school years. She has served on the
yearbook, Quiz Bowl, cheerleading, Celtic dance, student council,
wellness committee, youth leadership conference, Students Against Drunk
Driving, Portage Lake Watershed Forever, Toys for Tots, Pennies for
Patients, blood drives, food pantry and much more.
However, Veverica said the thing that helped her more than anything was
the time she spent on the Youth Advisory Council for the Manistee County
Community Foundation. It was an experience that helped her mature as a
“I am the board representative and go to all their foundation board
meetings and that helped a lot,” said Veverica.
Veverica has been very humbled by the honor and is looking forward to
the challenge. She was also accepted by and visited Stanford University
and hopes some day to possibly attend medical school on the West Coast.
However, for now her focus is on Harvard and enjoying the total
experience. She said some of her friends have already inquired about
visiting her at school.
“Two of my friends bought me a Harvard T-shirt when I was accepted and
they want to come visit me,” said Veverica. “I am very excited about
going there, and it is going to be very different from what I grew up
with in Onekama where you know everyone and everything.”
Those who know Veverica are unanimous in one thing and that is they feel
confident she will succeed in whatever she puts her mind to doing. But
more importantly, she has become a role model to a host of younger
students at Onekama Schools proving that “if you can dream -- then you
can achieve it.”
by Ken Grabowski, Manistee News Advocate