Dream big, teen was told; now he’s going to Princeton

By Diane Bell

Princeton was rated by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 national university in the United States in 2023. It has fewer than 6,000 undergraduates and a low 4.4 percent applicant acceptance rate.

Alejandro Pliego, whose father is a chef in Little Italy and whose mother works for a dry cleaner, has defied the odds.

The 18-year-old high school senior has just become the first member of his Hispanic family to attend a four-year college. Not only will Pliego be going to Princeton, but he has received a full scholarship.

He’s the first student from the Rock Academy, a small private Christian school in Liberty Station, to attend Princeton, although in the Rock Academy’s 21-year history several students have been accepted at one of the elite Ivy League colleges.

Pliego got word of his Princeton acceptance when he refreshed his laptop during his English class. “I couldn’t focus on my classwork because I knew the decision was coming out,” he recalls. When the notification “view update” popped up, his classmates gathered around and he opened it.

The news rippled through Rock Academy halls like a joyful tidal wave.

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