Brendan Kent, 18
Summit High School senior
Favorite Movie: “School of Rock”
Favorite TV Show: “Modern Family”
Favorite Book: “From Beirut to Jerusalem” by Thomas L. Friedman
Favorite Bands: Arctic Monkeys, Def Leppard
Favorite soccer team: Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
It’s quite possible that this time next year, Brendan Kent will be spending much of his time in Hogwart’s Great Hall.
But the Summit High School senior won’t be going to school to learn wizardry. Instead, he’ll be studying the more down-to-earth subjects of history, political science and philosophy at one of the most prestigious colleges in the world: Oxford University.
“I’m a fan of the Harry Potter movies, so knowing that parts of it were filmed at Oxford definitely didn’t hurt my wanting to go there,” Brendan said.
Brendan is the first student from Summit High to be accepted to Oxford, according to the school’s principal, Alice Dewittie. He is currently on track to be top of his class this year and maintains a 4.2 GPA. And all this while playing football and lacrosse for the school’s teams, as well as being a classical pianist and a drummer in a classic rock reggae-inspired band with his friends called Overdub the Radio. But while Brendan is intelligent and well-liked at school, his teachers also say what might stand out most about him is his humble attitude.
“He’s unique in the sense that he’s not only bright but he also understands where his place is in the world,” said Benjamin Pierce, Brendan’s advanced placement U.S. History teacher.
“Bright kids like him sometimes have the tendency to act high and mighty, but he’s not like that at all. He’s down to earth and has a true interest in learning.”
But while Brendan has always been a high achiever, the thought of going to Oxford never crossed his mind until spring break of his sophomore year, when he and his family took a vacation to England. They visited both the Cambridge and Oxford campuses during the trip, an experience that got Brendan thinking about his future.
“I loved Oxford right away,” Brendan said. “It has a beautiful campus, and I loved the atmosphere of it.”
But though Brendan took an immediate liking to the university, the thought of actually going there one day still seemed far-fetched to the teen.
“It seemed like a long shot,” he said. “Not because I’m unqualified. But it just seemed like a long shot.”
Brendan wasn’t wrong about that. According to Oxford’s undergraduate admission website, the school received more than 17,000 applicants in 2012 and only accepted about 3,200. Only about 11 percent of accepted students came from countries outside of the United Kingdom and European Union.
The odds were against Brendan getting in. But he decided to try anyway.
The steps of the admission process were lengthy, requiring tests and applications different than the kind found in the American university admission process. Brendan learned last month that he had cleared the entrance exams, meaning he’d made it to the interview stage. He flew out to England at the beginning of the month to sit face-to-face with the admission committee for Oxford’s social sciences department.
After four days there, he returned home, knowing he’d done everything he could to get into the school and hoping it was enough.
He found out this month that it had been enough.
“I feel like I was admitted because I’d read enough about politics and history outside of school, which showed them that I was prepared and really interested in these subjects,” Brendan said.
“I’ve never known any student who prepared for class as much as he did,” Pierce said. “A lot of times, instead of going to lunch with friends, he’d go to the library to study and prep for the next class. I’ve had a lot of exceptional students at Summit over the years. Brendan’s been one of the very best.”
Brendan hasn’t yet committed to the school, as he’s waiting to see which of the other 15 universities he applied to have accepted him. But he said he’s definitely leaning toward Oxford, and has his eye on a diplomatic career. Should he be asked to go on tour someday playing drums for a band like AC/DC, though, he said he might put his diplomatic aspirations on hold.
While Brendan’s got every reason to let his recent success go to his head, he remains as humble as ever. His goals for the rest of the school year include maintaining his position as captain of his lacrosse team, continuing to compose music both on the piano and the drums and making it through the rest of his senior year.
“I think a lot comes from the fact that I don’t want life to go by,” Brendan said. “I want to make things happen and take risks and do exciting things. I want to push myself to make leaps.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0354, email@example.com