UPEI grad accepted to Harvard University

Cornwall native and UPEI graduate Hannah Dawson says her acceptance into the world-renowned Ivy League law school at Harvard University was exciting.

Hannah Dawson says she's 'incredibly lucky' to be going to the world-renowned law school

Cornwall native and UPEI graduate Hannah Dawson was excited to get accepted to Harvard University. (Hannah Dawson/Facebook)

Cornwall native and UPEI graduate Hannah Dawson says her acceptance into the world-renowned Ivy League law school at Harvard University was exciting.  

"I was sitting in the driveway of my house, and I got a call, and I saw the number come up. It was Cambridge, Mass.," the 22-year-old told CBC News. "I immediately kind of freaked out. I didn't really stop to think about whether it was good news or bad news."

When she answered the phone, the admissions officer told her that she had some good news, but with excitement soon overtaking her, the UPEI grad says she can't quite remember what happened next.

'I was pretty tickled'

Her journey to Harvard started much like the application to any other Canadian law school, Dawson said. She wrote the Law School Admission Test in June 2015, giving herself plenty of time to rewrite the exam if she wasn't satisfied with the results.

"I got a level that I thought would be competitive for Harvard, so I was pretty tickled about that, and in the back of my mind I kind of thought to myself maybe I would apply to a couple of big schools in the States," she said.

Her parents fronted the cost of the application fee, so Dawson sent along an application package to Harvard with reference letters, a personal statement, transcript and her LSAT score. Then she had a Skype interview with the university.

Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., is one of the world's premier universities. (Darren McCollester/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Standing out

Dawson said what she believes helped her stand out was her work with The Community Legal Information Association in Charlottetown, which she said helps give people a "fair shake" in the justice system. She spent time with the organization as a student and a summer intern.

"Part of the admissions process is luck, and the rest of it is making sure your application is solid and there are no holes in it," she said.

What's next

Harvard doesn't come cheap. It will cost between $50,000-$60,000 for tuition — with the low dollar making matters worse — but the university has done more in recent years to make it possible for those who are qualified to attend regardless how much they have.

"Their kind of premise for Harvard law is that the students who are going have merit," she said.  "Basically what they do, they evaluate your financial situation, and they make sure every student can attend."

After Harvard, Dawson said she'd like to practice law in the U.S. for a few years, but may come back to Canada to do the same.

Harvard University has made strides in recent years in making itself more accessible those who require financial aid. (Glen Cooper/Getty Images)

"I have definitely talked to some Canadian firms because I didn't want to close the door to practicing law in Canada in the future, and definitely they're willing to consider an American J.D. from certain schools."

For now, she said being accepted to Harvard is humbling.

"I'm incredibly lucky to be in a position to be doing this for sure," she added. "I feel like I got a really incredibly solid foundation from my studies at UPEI and the school of business and I think it will serve me very much in the years to come."