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Years of dedication to his studies has earned Los Alamos High School senior, William Phillips, IV, a slot at Brown University this fall.
More than 18,000 applicants applied for just 1,450 places in the freshman class. The 17-year-old received his early decision acceptance letter last week and described the Ivy League college in Providence, R.I. as his top pick.
“At first I was stunned when the letter arrived,” he said. “My mom and I visited more than 23 schools and realized more and more that brown was a perfect fit for me.”
He likes the faith Brown places in its students. “They give students the ability to choose their own classes,” he said. “They expect students to want to learn and trust them to set their own curriculum.”
Phillips is considering becoming a physician like his uncle, but said that could change, adding that he has a strong interest in math and biology.
Phillips comes from a long line of scholars and has made the National Honor Society for six consecutive semesters, he said. His father, Bill Phillips, received his undergraduate degree from Howard University and a law degree from Rutgers University.
“We’re very, very proud of William,” Bill said. “This is quite an accomplishment, especially in these times when the competition to get into the elite colleges and universities is very stiff. His acceptance at Brown is principally a result of his hard work and also because of the support of his parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. But William is the one who put in the long hours and he’s the one who understood he had to get high marks to get into a top college.”
Phillips’ mother, Linda Phillips, graduated from Yale University. “I was pretty speechless,” Linda said of her initial reaction to her son’s acceptance to Brown. “We knew that Brown was the perfect school for William. He’s a very serious kid ... We’re very proud of him ... He’s worked very hard and has definitely earned this opportunity at Brown University.”
Phillips paid tribute to LAHS educators David Thurston and Joanne Ploeger and guidance counselor Diane Toups for their support.
Phillips is a member of the Hilltalkers Speech and Debate Team and thanked coach, Noel Trujillo. Trujillo has coached the team for 19 years and spoke highly of Phillips. “William is a student who perseveres,” Trujillo said. “He works hard to accomplish his tasks and has overcome any barriers that have been put in front of him to achieve success. He is capable and competitive in the most difficult debate, which is the senior cross examination debate.”
Phillips placed first in Novice Policy at a UNM tournament in January.
Assistant coach, Margo Batha, commented that debate is a great experience for high school students because it teaches them to think critically, see both sides to an argument, and respond quickly to changing circumstances under the pressure of a round.
In early December, Phillips and five team members participated in a national debate tournament in Austin organized by the University of Texas debate team.
Among his many activities, Phillips founded “Breaking the Code” in January. The LAHS club is designed for students with learning differences. He also serves as an instructional assistant for seniors with learning disabilities in mathematics.
Phillips lived in New Delhi, India and attended the American Embassy School from 2002-2005. He speaks Spanish and lived in La Paz, Bolivia and attended the American Cooperative School from 1998-2001.
Phillips plays golf for LAHS and the one thing he wants people to know is that while he’s tall, he does not play basketball and has no interest to do so. His brother Derek, 12, does like basketball and just made the cut for the Los Alamos Middle School team.
Unlike many of the colleges he visited, Phillips appreciated the fact that Brown University officials did not bring up basketball at all. They were interested in him as a person and how well he and the college would match.
Brown is the third college founded in New England and the seventh in America.
The campus includes 238 buildings on 143 acres. Some 5,900 students attend the undergraduate college, 1,500 are enrolled in the graduate school and another 340 are in the medical school.
Brown has a current student to faculty ratio of just nine to one and promotes diversity and intellectual freedom. It offers a curriculum that requires students to be the architects of their education.
The curriculum relates back to a philosophy shaped by Brown President Francis Wayland. In 1850, he wrote: “The various courses should be so arranged that, insofar as practicable, every student might study what he chose, all that he chose, and nothing but what he chose.”