Headed for Harvard

JOHN McELHENNY/Special to the Times/Gloucester High School Mila Barry senior will be attending Harvard University in the fall. Harvard only accepted 1,968 students of the 57,435 who applied.

As a kid, Mila Barry used to walk the third of a mile to East Gloucester Elementary School every morning, her books and pencils bouncing in the pack on her back. Right on Mt. Pleasant, left on Chapel Street. Down the hill to Davis Street Extension and up the front steps to school.

Now, the Gloucester High School senior has a new academic destination: Harvard University.

Barry, 18, recently committed to attend the oldest and most prestigious U.S. university, overcoming long odds to win a spot in the first-year class. This year was the lowest admissions rate in Harvard’s history as the college accepted 1,968 students out of the 57,435 who applied — a 3.4% acceptance rate.

The Marble Road resident said Harvard was one of 10 colleges to which she applied. When she learned of her admission, she was shocked. “I had never envisioned it but when I heard I got in — that was amazing,” Barry said. “That moment was a huge relief to me.”

But Kim Trigilio wasn’t surprised.

A Gloucester High English teacher, Trigilio has taught Barry for four years and advised her on The Gillnetter, the high school’s student news site, and The Elicitor, the school’s literary magazine. Barry is editor in chief of both publications.

“I want people to know how hard she works, how much of herself she dedicates to every project, every essay, every story she publishes,” Trigilio said. “The magazine. The newspaper. All of it. When I heard she got into Harvard I was thrilled for her, but I wasn’t surprised. She has so much to offer.”

Barry’s admission to Harvard was part of a strong year of college admissions for Gloucester High School. Members of the senior class this spring have also been admitted to Cornell, Bates, Middlebury, Vassar, Fordham, Wesleyan, Trinity and Bard, among other top colleges.

Besides her leadership roles on The Gillnetter and The Elicitor, Barry was also captain of the soccer and swim teams. In her spare time, she founded Art for Equity, which raises money to buy books that celebrate Black and Brown characters for Gloucester Public School libraries and classrooms.

At Harvard, Barry is considering majoring in English or comparative literature. Anthropology is an option, too. After college, she plans a career that will allow her to pursue her passion for writing.

She’s grateful that the environment at Gloucester High School challenged her academically and gave her plenty of opportunity to pursue what interests her most — her writing. She knows other students whose teachers helped them pursue their love of chemistry or music.

“That’s been my favorite aspect of Gloucester High School — if there’s something that drives you, whatever makes you tick, you can take that interest and really run with it, and for me that’s been The Gillnetter and journalism,” Barry said. “I wouldn’t change my GHS experience. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

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