San Benito HS senior Ian Sills earned early acceptance into Stanford University.

San Benito High School senior Ian Sills recently huddled with his parents and three younger siblings in front of his computer screen so they could all share in his once-in-a-lifetime moment.

The 17-year-old was about to click the mouse to find out if he had been accepted to his top college choice.

Early acceptance into Stanford University had been a dream of Sills since he was 10 years old, so he described the build-up to finding out his future as “strange and surreal.”

Sills logged into his online application account with his family looking over his shoulder, and immediately saw the response he wanted. “The first word was ‘Congratulations,’” he said. “It was really a surreal moment.”

It was an early Christmas present for Sills, who submitted his application to Stanford prior to the Nov. 1 cutoff for “early action” consideration.

“It definitely feels like the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders,” said Sills, vice president of his high school’s Associated Student Body who is ranked third in his class with a 4.5 cumulative GPA.

Along with filling out the common application for private schools, Sills authored a personal statement essay. In that, he described the variety of influences in his life—moving from high-tech San Jose to big ag Hollister—and also took great pride in identifying as “biracial.” Sills is the son to a first-generation Mexican mother and a Caucasian father, something he said epitomizes the “bicultural” Hollister community.

“Moving from Silicon Valley to a small ag town and being biracial, it really helped me in my life,” said Sills, a third-degree black belt who competed as a hurdler on the Baler track team. “I’d really like to thank my high school for being such a great catalyst for my development. It’s through opportunities and great people I’ve met in high school that I was really able to accomplish this.”

Sills, who also serves as president of his Speech and Debate team and co-president of the Outdoor Club, plans to major in political science. He hopes to go on to law school and then delve into international affairs with the state department or become an environmental lobbyist.

“It’s honestly like hitting the lottery,” said Sills of being accepted to Stanford. “It’s overwhelming.”

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