Star power: Boyceville senior heads to Harvard

2012-05-16T12:30:00Z Star power: Boyceville senior heads to HarvardBy DEB ANDERSON | deb.anderson@lee.net Chippewa Herald

A scholar and an athlete, Boyceville High School senior Kyle Franseen has a lot on his plate, but he has managed his time and his endeavors well.

Not only is he salutatorian, but the active sportsman has just been accepted to Harvard University. It’s not only a big deal for Franseen, but a source of pride for his community.

“I don’t know if he is the first person from Dunn County to go there,” said Steve Duerst, fifth grade teacher in Boyceville, “but obviously, he is the first one from Boyceville.”

Franseen was one of only 2,000 students accepted from 34,000 applicants from around the world. He feels very lucky to be accepted into the Ivy League school, as he scored a 33 on his ACT test and most applicants need at least a 32, and he was not first in his class as were 3,800 of his fellow applicants.

At Harvard, he will study biomedical engineering, a subject that is quite broad, from creating new types of prosthetics to imaging machines and pharmaceuticals. He chose the field because it combines two of his favorite subjects — biology and physics.

And the area is one that feeds his soul and his goal. “My dream is to be a part of research that can truly help people in some way or another,” said Franseen.

Harvard is going to help make the dream come true, as the university has offered him a scholarship. That relieves Franseen, as Harvard’s tuition is very expensive and was an area of concern when he was first accepted.

“I am incredibly grateful for this,” said Franseen.

Shooting for the stars

The “crazy journey” he says, began last year when he started getting quite a few letters from colleges asking him to visit and apply. He was pleasantly surprised when he also heard from a few Ivy League colleges.

Last summer, the Franseen family took a trip to Harvard, MIT, Yale and Princeton, “just for the fun of it.”

In mid-October, Franseen applied to Harvard, but didn’t believe he had much of a chance of being accepted. “I simply was thinking that I only get to live once, and so I might as well shoot for the stars,” he said.

But when the e-mail reply came, as promised, in mid-December, it appeared that hoping the stars would align was perhaps asking too much. He was told he had been deferred and the admissions committee wouldn’t decide his fate until March 29.

Three months of waiting didn’t inspire much hope in his chances. He also got a rejection from another Ivy League college, MIT, which further convinced him that entering Harvard would not come to fruition.

Moving forward, he applied and was accepted to UW-Madison and Kentucky University. When the e-mail from Harvard arrived, he couldn’t have been more caught off guard.

“The subject line did not contain anything special like ‘Congratulations’ so I wasn’t hopeful,” he said. “However, sure enough, inside it said that I had been accepted. I think I reread the email 10 times before I told my sister to come read it to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I was completely speechless. I began to think that it was possibly an early April Fool’s joke, but nope, it was the real deal.”

Highly recommended

Letters of recommendation to Harvard sent by Andy Hamm, chemistry and physics teacher, and Tim Engel, civics teacher and head baseball coach, helped seal the deal.

“Without the teachers at Boyceville, my peers, my family and the community’s support, none of this would have ever been possible,” said Franseen.

Known as a team player, Franseen credits no one single person as his inspiration.

“I like to think that I am paving my own path,” he said, “something that no one has done before.”

And the same can be said of his class work, since each and every course has been important to him: “I really love them all. I love to learn, and  any class where the teacher enjoys teaching, I have fun in.”

And his teachers have made quite an impact. “I feel that Boyceville’s teachers do a great job of inspiring students to enjoy learning.”

Impressive portfolio

Franseen’s resume reads like Who’s Who. In addition to achieving a 4.19 GPA at Boyceville, the stellar student has been on the Boyceville High School High Honor Roll for four years, was named to the National Honor Society and is an academic letter winner. Of special note, he received a National Merit Scholarship Letter of Commendation.

He has lettered and earned numerous awards in cross country, basketball and baseball. Franseen played in the band while he was a freshman and sophomore. In Science Olympiad, he earned 53 medals, contributed to three state championships and was given the team’s Hardest Worker Award twice.

In student government, he has been a Student Council member for four years and served as treasurer this year. He has also held the office of class treasurer all four years of high school.

Menomonie Rotary Club gave him the Youth Volunteer Service Award. And in January, he was named Youth Optimist of the Month.

In his free time, he volunteers at Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire, does assistant coaching for youth baseball and works the clock at youth basketball tournaments. He is also a member and usher at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Boyceville.

Having recently attended prom (last year he was elected prom king), and keeping busy with baseball games and tests, his focus will turn to finding a summer job to help pay for some of the cost of his Harvard tuition.

Even though the Wisconsin outdoors will always hold a special place in his heart, the job he gets after completing his degree may lead him elsewhere.  And he’s OK with that — he’s hitched his wagon to a star and is looking forward to the ride of his life.

“If I can accomplish my dream of being a part of important research in my field, work will probably dictate where I live,” he said.

At some point in his future, he hopes to return to the Badger State, most likely to be close to his family. Franseen is the son  of Eric and Tracy Franseen and brother to Kysa, 17. His grandparents are Oscar and Hazel Franseen and Rondell and Marilyn Hybben.

Copyright 2015 Chippewa Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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