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Photos from (left to right): Jacob Wilentz, Sydney Balfan, and Victoria Mak 

Penn released its regular decision results at 5 p.m. on March 30, and for 9.15 percent of applicants, Thursday was a dream come true.

Sydney Balfan, a senior at Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Fla., was brought to tears by the news of her acceptance.

“My mom went to Penn. A lot of her family died, she was on welfare and she was living alone, so it was a really big deal for her,” Balfan said. “And then now when I got in, I started hysterically crying.”

Balfan said she ran to her mom’s room, and her mom began to cry as well.

Balfan has visited Penn three times throughout her life, and she made sure to tour the school once without her mom.

“I didn’t want her bias to get in the way,” she said. “But every single time I visited, I loved it so, so much, and I loved the people there. It really changed my mom’s life, and ever since she told me all about Penn, I just always did research about it and just fell in love.”

Victoria Mak, a senior from Millburn High School in Millburn N.J., like most applicants, experienced a good deal of stress in the moments leading up to the decisions release.

“I kind of cloistered myself because I was scared of what would happen,” she said. “Those 10 minutes before I found out were the longest 10 minutes of my life.”

Once she received her acceptance, however, Mak was “super thrilled.”

“I feel like now I can finally have a school to get excited about going to,” she said. “My sister currently goes [to Penn], and she’s loving it.”

Jacob Wilentz, a senior at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla., was similarly elated.

“Penn has always been one of my top choices,” he said. “I checked [the result] away from my parents, and then I kind of screamed, and then they came in. I was shocked,” he said.

After touring Penn about a year ago, Wilentz immediately took to the campus’ atmosphere.

“Everyone there was just really nice and happy,” he said. “There’s just so much I loved about it.”

While students are looking forward to starting their freshman year in the fall, Penn Admissions Office is looking forward to seeing in person the personality of the incoming class.

Penn Admissions spokesperson Kathryn Bezella enjoyed reading through applications and learning about students’ passions.

“Students are so candid about the thing that they really love doing,” Bezella said, noting that many incoming Quakers pursued passions largely independently during their high school years. ”[Penn has] people who can teach them more about [their interests] and we have resources to support them.”

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda added that he is very proud of the work the Admissions staff has put into forming the Class of 2021.

“Yes, it’s our job,” Furda said. “But in so many ways, it’s so much more than that to really spend the time to care and nurture and build what is going to be the next class at Penn.”

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