Brooklyn teen, discouraged from getting into Stuyvesant, now MIT-bound

A Stuyvesant High School senior who was once told getting into the elite institution was “practically impossible,” just beat the odds again — landing a spot at the top college in the world.

Sebastian Acevedo — who grew up with an Ecuadorian immigrant mom and a supermarket manager dad, neither of whom went to college — started “crying and screaming” when he learned he’d been accepted early to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“I’m still thinking that I’m dreaming right now,” the teen told The Post, adding he keeps checking the school’s letter “to make sure they didn’t make a mistake.”

“There have been times when people doubted me before,” said Sebastian, who was one of 33 Hispanic kids among 895 admitted to the premier specialized high school in 2019. “I really just wanted to push myself as far as I could go.”

The 17-year-old recalled countless all-nighters studying for Advanced Placement physics or linear algebra, and his two-train, 40-minute commute from his home in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to Stuy’s Battery Park campus.

Sebastian Acevedo has earned early acceptance to MIT.
Helayne Seidman

The intensity of the top high school was overwhelming at first.

“It was extremely different than anything I experienced in school before,” said Sebastian, who previously attended St. Matthias Academy in Queens.

His mom Kathy Rivera added, “He was a goldfish in an ocean. But he’s so driven – nothing’s going to stop him.

A picture of the "Great Dome" atop Building 10 on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge, Mass.
“My circle of friends don’t even know what MIT is. But I’m happy that he’s going to get to a place that I couldn’t dream of,” Acevedo mom said.
AP/Charles Krupa

“I didn’t get to go to college. He’s the first one in the family to go,” said Rivera, noting she didn’t even know what a specialized high school was until her son started preparing for the fearsome SHSAT entrance exam.

Still, the mom of two, who earns minimum wage as a grocery store clerk, said there’s only so much bragging she can do — since many of her pals have never heard of MIT.

“My circle of friends don’t even know what MIT is. But I’m happy that he’s going to get to a place that I couldn’t dream of.”

Sebastian Acevedo holds diplomas
Sebastian as an 8th Grader at St. Matthais Catholic Academy in Queens
A picture of Stuyvesant HS.
The Stuyvesant High School senior was once told getting into the elite institution was “practically impossible.”


Life wasn’t all schoolwork for Sebastian, who blows off steam playing video games and is also a competitive boxer.

In ninth grade, he scored a cool 1510 out of 1600 on the SAT. His current GPA is about 94.

He’s still waiting to hear from other schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Yale before he makes his final choice. 

The teen, who plans to study chemistry and computer science in college, has this advice for dealing with naysayers: “Don’t listen if someone telling you that you can’t do something. It’s up to you to choose your own path in life.”