An enthusiastic learner, self-proclaimed busy-body and Floyd native, Brook Smith was admitted to Yale University in December 2020. Graduating from Floyd County High School in May, Smith says the coming season of changes is “daunting,” but she’s “excited nonetheless.”
Smith, who finds both virtual and in-person instruction “absurdly fun,” says she is passionate about social sciences, “especially on topics applicable to the human condition, how we think of each other and society as a whole,” and she plans to study political science at Yale.
“I’m not sure what will come after that, but the political landscape that most people abhor is my passion, so it’s a good starting point,” Smith said.
Smith is the daughter of Mike and Beth Smith of Floyd.
One of the most influential classes Smith took at Floyd County High School, Smith said, was Andrew Sayers’ AP U.S. History and Government classes beginning in January 2020. Smith said Sayers has “become absurdly good at dealing with the chaos” she brings to any room.
“I love all things history and politics, so those classes were fun for me just on the basis of content, but it helps to have a teacher who will put up with extensive asides about the parallels between historical events and current events,” Smith said. “Plus, as I came to realize in an introspective afternoon a few weeks ago, the historical analysis skills I learned in APUSH [Sayers’ class] are what inspired me to write the essay that helped me get into Yale.”
Sayers said Smith is a “superstar,” who “writes profound analysis and draws real, meaningful conclusions all the time,” and remembered one of their conversations that resonated with Smith “in a major way.”
“What is impressive is that she deeply analyzes information on a human and personal level like few students I’ve taught,” Sayers said. “Brook and I had a conversation early this school year about the cyclical nature of American history and events — as we have said — there’s nothing new out there.”
On the day she received the university’s decision in December, Smith said, she was nervous and “so afraid of rejection.” She recalled the moments leading up to the news with vivid detail.
“I both refused to let my parents watch me open it and asked my friends to be with me virtually, so I wouldn’t be alone in my sadness (if it was a rejection). When decisions finally came out, five of my best friends jumped on a group call with me, and … when I saw the acceptance, I quietly said, ‘I got in.’ My friends all started screaming …” Smith recalled. When she yelled the news louder, she said, her parents came running in the room. “I don’t remember much of the conversation because my friends and my parents were shouting over each other, but there were plenty of ‘I told you so’s.’”
Floyd High School Guidance Counselor Kirsten Mosby said that one other FCHS graduate has attended Yale within the past three years, and Sayers said that Smith is his third student to go to an Ivy League school since 2018, including Cassady Marion and Shaylee Martin. According to several college-prep websites, the chances of being admitted to Yale University in 2020 was 6.1 percent.
“My mom made a joke that Yale was too far from home, and I then kicked her out of my room to celebrate with my friends, and they said that was mean, so … Sorry, mom,” Smith said.
“The huge changes that come with graduating from high school are innumerable and sometimes intimidating, but we all grow up and go out into the world,” Smith said. “New England is an exciting place with a lot to do — albeit with some intense culture shock — and my best friend is moving just a few hours away from Yale, so I’m excited for whatever the future holds.”
To the credit of modern technology, including group chats, Smith said she’s already made friends she’s excited to meet in-person after graduation. She added, “as a long-term band kid, I’ve also been looking forward to the chaos of Ivy League marching bands for months, and, as I said on my application, I’m immediately drawn to Yale’s offering of 50-cent cheeseburgers until 2 a.m. — I guess one could say that’s my advice to anyone hoping to apply to prestigious colleges: don’t be afraid to joke about things like buying cheeseburgers in the middle of the night!”