Grace HuckinsIt’s not Hogwarts, but it’s close.

CTY alumna Grace Huckins is one of 32 U.S. students selected to receive a prestigious 2016 Rhodes Scholarship.

This fall, the Harvard University senior from Weston, Mass., will head to Oxford University to begin her doctoral study of neuroscience. She’s also eager to see some sites from her favorite book series when she makes her first trip across the pond.  

“I’ve wanted to go to England ever since I started reading Harry Potter,” she said.

After submitting application materials and interviewing twice in front of a panel of judges, Grace learned a few days before Thanksgiving that she’d been chosen as one of this year’s Rhodes Scholars.

“It was completely dreamlike,” she said. “It still hasn’t really sunk in.”

Grace is no stranger to academic achievement. When she was 12, she earned a perfect score on the math section of the SAT. She’s enjoyed problem solving since she was young, an interest her parents nurtured by enrolling her in accelerated math courses and CTY programs.

“I’ve always been an ambitious person, but rather than pulling me in any one direction, my parents have always done a good job of letting me decide what I wanted to do,” Grace said.

She attended CTY Summer Programs at Mount Holyoke in sixth grade followed by three years at Saratoga Springs, where she took courses in essay writing, fiction writing, and fast-paced high school physics.

“Some of my most prominent, most enduring CTY memories are the months of anticipation every year going into the summer,” she said. “It was totally different from anything I’d ever experienced. My friends in school were intellectually excited, but [attending Summer Programs] was the first time I got to experience of all the nerdiness and quirkiness, the traditions, and the time away from home.”

At Harvard, she’s pursuing a double major in neuroscience and physics. She writes for The Harvard Crimson, and served last year as chair of the newspaper’s Arts Board. She has also qualified for the U.S. National and Junior Olympic fencing competitions. In her spare time, she likes reading and spending time with her family. She’s also training for the Boston Marathon.

“I spend most of my time with courses and class work and intellectual pursuits where my brain is very turned on, so it’s nice when I’m running and I can just turn it all off,” she said.

It’s easy to be envious of her success, though hard earned. But Grace promises there is one thing she absolutely can’t do.

“I so badly wish I wasn’t terrible at this, because I love music and concerts, but I cannot sing for the life of me,” she said. “I’m always annoying my family because I sing in the shower … I sing every where I go, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me.”

— Katy Bowman