Editor's Note: Shortly after The Chronicle's print deadline on Friday, Brooklyn Sandridge also received word of her acceptance to the Harvard Women's Track and Field Team.
Onalaska’s Brooklyn Sandridge has been accepted to Harvard University and is moving to Massachusetts this summer to begin attending classes next semester.
Her friends, family, coaches and teachers held a congratulatory ceremony for Sandridge early Thursday evening in the Onalaska High School gymnasium’s foyer.
“She’s always been a momma’s girl, so when she was applying I was like, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’” said Dominique Damian, Sandridge’s mother. “She’s always set her expectations higher than anything I think is possible, but that’s what she does. Then she works toward it.”
Damian said support from the Onalaska community helped her daughter achieve her goal of getting into Harvard.
A 4.0 GPA student, Sandridge is also a sports star whose accomplishments include the State of Washington Heisman Trophy, being named a finalist for the National Heisman Award, The Chronicle’s soccer player of the year, basketball player of the year and a track and field athlete on top of being named the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Athlete of the Week multiple times.
One of speakers at the ceremony was Sandridge’s first grade teacher, Cathy Murphy, who said even at the age of 6 Sandridge stood out.
“Not only did she come to school knowing pretty much all of the first grade standards, which challenges every teacher, she was not in any way finished with her learning,” Murphy said, later adding, “We kind of created learning opportunities for her to explore her curiosity and her God-given intellect and many talents.”
While he has only been Onalaska High School principal for a year, Wade Pilloud said Sandridge left an impression on him.
“When I came here and started last fall, I was getting to know myself and the area. I went out and helped paint the grandstands and in the gym, doing different things,” Pilloud said. “It seems like every time I turned around, I ran into her.”
Onalaska Athletic Director Dennis Bower spoke about not only Sandridge’s athletic prowess but her family and community support system.
“Brooklyn’s been raised by a single mom who is just outstanding, but Dominique (Damian) is right, the community of Onalaska, great teachers, the family members, are all strong and that’s where she gets her core beliefs,” Bower said.
After she was presented with her official certificate to Harvard, Sandridge thanked everyone for their love and support throughout the entire process.
“Ever since I found out about two months ago that I got in, it got real. I’ve realized I’m moving across the country from my family and entire community. The people sitting in this room who took time out of their days to come here, you don’t get that at an Ivy League (school),” Sandridge said. “I’ve been really struggling with the fact that I’m leaving this.”
One of the biggest issues she’s faced already is explaining to people at Harvard that Onalaska isn’t actually in Alaska.
“I’ve had to explain that so many times,” Sandridge said.
She said she’s proud to represent Onalaska and won’t forget where she’s from.
“I’ll keep the community close to me all throughout college. It’ll be my motivation,” Sandridge said.
While at Harvard, Sandridge hopes to eventually pursue a master’s degree in business and will start at Harvard Business School, focusing on business sociology and psychology. She also will be studying arts, film and visual studies.
“I’ve always been very interested in filmmaking,” Sandridge said.