Walter May: An Aviator Shooting for the Stars


Leslie Bautista
Will Walter choose Columbia or Stanford?

Seniors brilliantly recorded college acceptances: they decorated a picture of the Up house with balloons, each balloon demonstrating a student’s name and a college acceptance. It is an uplifting sight to see a number of bright students at our school, so if you haven’t stopped to look at it, I recommend you do. One day as I was looking at it, I noticed a reappearing name: Walter May. Walter was accepted to CSU Long Beach, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, Brown, Columbia, Yale, and Stanford. Luckily, I had the chance to talk to Walter about his “secrets” to getting accepted to such prestigious schools and I also got to know a little bit more about him, personally.

  1. Can you explain the feeling of getting so many acceptance letters?

“The whole application process was difficult, but an incredibly self-revealing experience. Each time I received a letter, I felt ecstatic and I would think about all the work I put in and the incredible influence and support of my parents. Receiving my acceptance letters helped me appreciate the entirety of the process. I definitely don’t take any school for granted.”

  1. What are some important parts of your “journey” that you think have led you to get accepted to these schools?

“Without a doubt, all the times I stayed up late whether to study for an APWH test, complete an art project, or finish an APES lab were important. The all-nighters helped me realize the importance of my effort and kept me motivated. Although it sounds bland, studying for the ACT was really helpful; getting a good score on those tests opens a lot of choices and opportunities.  Also, figuring out what I wanted to study through volunteer work and outside exploration was crucial for me; it really helped shape my application to show what I was truly passionate for.”

  1. What is some advice you could give to those signing up for colleges? Advice for underclassmen?

“To the Juniors, I really recommend starting early. The months from September to January of senior year are really hectic. I wished I would have started drafting essays during the summer so that I wouldn’t have spent most of winter break stressing. Also, be authentic when you write your essays. Focus on displaying yourself, rather than who you think admission officers want you to be. The Common App and supplemental essays become much easier and enjoyable to write.

To underclassmen, I advise to start figuring out and developing your passions. Focus on what you enjoy to learn or do and seek opportunities to engage in them—whether it’s summer programs, volunteer work,  or any other form. For Sophomores, entering junior year can be difficult to stay motivated, but always remember why you’re putting in the work. Whether it’s studying for the SAT/ACT or working through AP classes, your effort takes you a long way.”

  1. State four facts about you (they can be anything)
  • Like many at HMSA, I’m the first in my family to attend college.
  • I’m a huge, huge Beatles fan.
  • I really enjoy learning new languages, and I’m trying to pick up my parent’s language of Maya before I leave for college.
  • I’m an avid reader for any political news.
  1. What are you planning to pursue?

“I’m planning to major in applied math and double major or minor in political science. I’m hoping to apply what I learn to real-world applications whether it’s working to solve community issues or helping to shape public policy.”

  1. Is there a particular school you are leaning to? If not, what are some things you are taking into consideration when choosing which school to attend?

“Right now, I’m deciding between Stanford or Columbia. I’m really looking at the campus culture of the two and trying to figure out which campus environment I prefer. Some other factors I’m looking for is the opportunity to conduct research with professors and the opportunity to engage in a close-knit, collaborative environment with classmates.”

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