Aurora Sky Castner plans to study law when she attends Harvard University in the fall
A Texas girl who was born in jail is making a name for herself after graduating from high school at the top of her class, with plans to attend Harvard University.
Eighteen years after she was born in the Galveston County Jail, Aurora Sky Castner graduated third in her class at Conroe High School on Thursday night, The Courier reported.
Castner’s mother was in jail when she gave birth to her. She has not played a role in her daughter’s life since the day Castner’s father picked her up as a newborn from the prison, raising her as a single father, the outlet said.
According to the Courier, Castner opened her application essay to Harvard with the sentence, “I was born in prison.”
She was later accepted into the Ivy League through early action, and the teen plans to study law when she attends the school in the fall.
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Growing up, Castner moved around a lot with her dad, but always stayed in Montgomery County, the Courier reported.
When she was in elementary school, members of the staff saw potential in her, but felt she could use some guidance from CISD’s Project Mentor program, which partners community volunteers with students.
In came her mentor, Mona Hamby, who told the Courier, “I was given a paper about her. Her hero was Rosa Parks, her favorite food was tacos from Dairy Queen and she loved to read. I thought this sounds like a bright little girl. I still have that paper today.”
After Castner told Hamby about her parenting ordeal, the woman told The Courier she felt as though the now-teenager “needed more” than just a guide for school activities, but personal moments as well.
So Hamby helped Castner with things like picking out glasses and getting her first salon haircut, according to the outlet, while dentists, orthodontists and other community leaders helped Castner with her teeth and to enjoy important childhood experiences, such as summer camp.
“It was a very different environment than I grew up in and that’s not a bad thing,” Castner said. “Everything that Mona taught me was very valuable in the same way that everything that I went through before Mona was very valuable.”
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Hamby and her husband, Randy, toured the Harvard campus with Castner in March 2022, which helped solidify the teen’s decision to attend the university later this year. “After that trip, I saw her love for the school intensify,” Hamby said.
Alongside Hamby, the Courier reported that Castner also relied on James Wallace, a professor at Boston University, who helped her prepare her Harvard application. “He helped me to tell my story in the best way possible,” she told the outlet.
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