Skylar Hughes has gone above and beyond the average teen in order to get into Duke University. Recognizing this, the internet came together to help her cover her tuition.
Skylar Hughes is a high school senior from Georgia. When she received her college admissions letter from Duke University, she knew immediately she wanted her mom to be around as she opened it. Therefore, she and her father drove out to her mother's gravesite in order to open the letter. Over the past few years, Hughes, aged 17, has taken a heavy course load, including multiple Advanced Placement classes, in addition to working two jobs, completing an internship, competing in dance, and doing countless hours of community service. Whether she was accepted into her dream college or not, the teen knew she wanted to share the moment with her mom, Good Morning America reports.
Hughes lost her mom Rasheda Hughes on the last day of seventh grade, in the year 2016. She had suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015 and was then in a coma for the next year until her death. "I knew that since my mother had missed a lot of things with me in my childhood, growing up, and since this was mobile, I could take my computer to open the email anywhere, I knew I wanted to do it with her," the high school senior explained. "I thought whether I get accepted or denied, I wanted to share this moment with her because I knew it would be filled with emotion. I knew I’d find peace there and I knew she’d be proud of me regardless."
Duke University has been Hughes' top college for several years now. It is the only school she applied to, that too on an early admission basis. Her father James Hughes said it took her around 20 minutes to even open the email. He stated, "I remember trying to get her to click the button. We were out there for so long that by the time she clicked it, the system had logged her out and she had to log in again." Nonetheless, when she finally opened the email, she was overjoyed to learn that she had been accepted to Duke's Class of 2025.
This brought tears to my eyes. Let’s help Skylar Hughes' Journey to Duke University https://t.co/5IWg5Z8fn5— RP Harris Elementary (@RPHarrisWRS) January 8, 2021
"I saw the blue streamers and I just started breaking down," Hughes said. "I could not believe it. It’s been a lot of sacrifices so when I opened it and I got in, it was like all of my hard work had paid off. For the first time in a very long while I was just very proud of myself and just so happy." She believed that her mother truly was with her at that moment. Her father added, "At that point, we were two proud parents of our daughter. That was one thing that Rasheda could participate in because she wasn’t able to participate in so many of the things that Skylar has done since she passed." The father-daughter duo recorded the whole experience and posted it online, where they went viral.
So, when Hughes's "euphoria" of being accepted into her dream college was muted by the reality that she would have to pay close to $60,000 (that is after taking her financial aid package into account!), the internet collectively decided to step in. Her cousins have since started a GoFundMe account that has raised more than $46,000 and counting. Her father noted that her "job is to apply to scholarships, go to school and get good grades." He affirmed, "I’ll do the rest." Nonetheless, the high school senior will continue to work two part-time jobs to save money. She has also applied to more than 50 scholarships in the last month alone. Hughes, who hopes to become a marine biology researcher and help find cures to medical conditions like the brain aneurysm that took her mother's life, affirmed, "I thank my dad and all my aunts and my grandma for always pushing me to be my best and for putting this fire in me. After my mom passed, it would have just been so easy for me to be like, ‘That’s it.’ I could have very easily just done the bare minimum for the rest of my childhood and no one would have questioned it. I just want to show people that you’re more than your circumstance."