Clifton High School seniors Ashley Hernandez and Mariam Mufleh have been best friends since middle school.
They were both accepted into a slew of colleges, including Harvard and Dartmouth, and both will be first-generation college students.
The best friends attribute their success to three key ingredients: A supportive school environment, family encouragement and each other.
Hernandez is planning a career in political science and was accepted into: Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Brown, Johns Hopkins, Northeastern Honors College, Vanderbilt, Williams, Swarthmore, Middlebury, Case Western Reserve, Rutgers New-Brunswick Honors College, Rutgers Newark, and Montclair State University. She is currently on the waitlist at Princeton and Columbia.
"My parents have always taught me to value my education and aim for success," Hernandez said. "After witnessing their daughter rise above significant challenges to eventually attend one of America's top-ranked universities, my parents feel extremely proud and overjoyed at this new milestone in my life."
Mufleh wants to study physics pre-med and has been accepted into: Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth College, Vanderbilt University, Wesleyan University, Williams College, Rutgers University, and Montclair State University.
"Being able to attend a higher-level institution and make my immigrant parents proud has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life," Mufleh said. "I owe everything I have now to their sacrifices and support."
Neither student has made their final choice yet, but even if they don't go to the same university, they plan on staying best friends.
"I'm so grateful that I've had the chance to get to know both Ashley and Mariam this past school year," said Superintendent of Clifton Public Schools Danny Robertozzi. "I can personally attest that they both embody the positive elements of both Clifton Public Schools and society as whole. From their loyal friendship and their combined commitment to making our community a better place to their individual academic achievements, these two outstanding young women have discovered that a strong work ethic and compassion are the keys to success. I am confident that they will make a positive imprint in the world no matter what they choose for their futures."