Matthew Myslenski says he is always going to remember the fateful day in December when he learned he’d achieved a dream he’s had ever since he was a young boy.
The 17-year-old, a high school senior at Woodstock Academy in Woodstock, Connecticut, found out on Dec. 15 that he’d been accepted into his first-choice college – Harvard University.
“I saw confetti on the [computer] screen and I knew that I had made it into Harvard,” Matthew Myslenski recalled to “Good Morning America.”
“I've been working toward getting into Harvard basically since I was 7 so just finding out that my dreams came true is an amazing feeling,” he continued.
A video of Matthew’s joyous reaction following the big news has since gone viral, with over 833,000 views on his school’s TikTok account.
In a statement to “GMA,” the school also praised Matthew’s achievement.
“The Woodstock Academy community is extremely proud of Matt’s accomplishments,” Woodstock Academy Associate Head of School Holly Singleton said in a statement. “He has never backed down from pursuing his dreams, even when they seemed uncertain. While I’m sure many deserving students applied to Harvard, I am glad that Harvard recognized his unparalleled kindness to others, his personal commitment to give back to his community and make things better, and his stalwart determination to never be defeated by the things in his life that are hard.”
The video also features Matthew’s twin sister, Magdalena Myslenski, who has watched her brother work toward his dream for the last decade and was just as equally excited for his major accomplishment.
“I was really nervous for Matthew,” the 17-year-old, who goes by Magda, recounted. “We're all gathered around this computer and Matthew finally loaded up the screen and it was the confetti and it was, ‘Oh my gosh! This is actually happening.’”
“It’s something I know Matthew has been working hard for but it just means so much more that I got to go through this with Matthew and got to see this whole experience,” she said.
Over the years, Matthew, who has cerebral palsy, has had to figure out how to adapt to some of the challenges he’s had to face. CP is one of the most common motor disorders in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and for Matthew, CP affects his muscle movement and tone, his gait and other aspects like his posture.
“Having cerebral palsy can make it a bit harder doing physical tasks involved in education, for example, highlighting or taking notes down but what I do is I adapt to my disorder … and I work to overcome it,” Matthew said.
Both Matthew and Magda say the 17-year-old’s disability doesn’t hold him back from achieving his goals.
“It may look like he can't do things as well as others, which sometimes he can't, but if you really put in the extra work and keep at it, you can do anything in this world,” Magda said.
Added Matthew: “I also want people to take away that those who have a critical disability, you shouldn’t make any immediate assumptions about what they can or cannot do but you should take your time to realize everything that they can do and what they can offer.”
Matthew said he hopes to study biology at Harvard and become a physician one day, following in the footsteps of the doctors who cared for him at Boston Children’s Hospital, which is affiliated with the Ivy League university.
Both twins say they’re looking forward to going away for college, with Matthew heading to Boston and Magda leaving for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, in the fall.
Editor's note: This was originally published on Jan. 17, 2023.