What ‘the Ivies’ Couldn’t Provide

My name is Kat Mateo and I am a graduate of the nation’s number three law school, Stanford Law School. Since I gained admission, I people continuously ask what undergraduate institution I came from. They’re curious to know which of the nation’s top schools equipped me to withstand the rigorous admission process and the demands of a prestigious law school. (After all, the acceptance rate to Stanford Law School is 10% and the pedigree of most students includes Ivy League schools and renowned bloodlines.) To their surprise, I was a part of the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY.

When choosing an undergraduate college, I found myself deciding between an Ivy League college and Macaulay Honors College. Both shared many similarities – distinguished faculty, engaging students, and a strong alumni network. The things that the Ivies lacked—and that ultimately made a difference in my decision—were things that I found at Macaulay: a strong sense of community, tuition assistance, smaller classes, and more autonomy in customizing your undergraduate academic experience. Macaulay was the clear choice and was the perfect fit for me.

Kat Mateo addressed the Macaulay Class of 2016 at their commencement.
Kat Mateo addressed the Macaulay Class of 2016 at their commencement.

I triple majored in Political Science, Physics, and Philosophy. I met Professor Ira Bloom, a distinguished mentor who has been supportive and had a strong impact on my life (even today). I found job opportunities in Congress, with the New York Attorney General’s Office, HBO, and a judge, among others. I earned a top-notch education that equipped me to gain admission to Stanford Law School and to compete with other students there. At Macaulay Honors College, I found a high caliber of excellence in the education I received, and in my academic peers.

I am most proud to know that, because of my dedication and the opportunities I was given at Macaulay, CUNY was finally represented at Stanford Law School. I have shown that coming from a public institution has not been a disadvantage. In fact, by voyaging such a unique path, my story has piqued interest, drawn questions, and has brought me many great mentors who have been eager to help me in my journey.

Having gone from CUNY to such a prominent law school, I have enjoyed the privilege of showing that the stereotypes about public institutions are not true. In place of these stereotypes, I have instead shown that public institutions can breed intelligence, commitment, and perseverance, just like the Ivies.

Since graduation, I have been working as a litigation attorney with a prestigious law firm in New York City. I work on riveting white collar, securities, and complex class actions, and live the life I always imagined.

I hope that my journey will compel you to take a closer look at Macaulay Honors College, because I guarantee that it will truly turn the course of your path, it will prepare you for any career you wish to pursue, and it will lead you through a unique and memorable experience.

Much like William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” and Macaulay is the spark!

Sincerely yours,
Kat Mateo

Applying to Macaulay

An application checklist, things you’ll need, and special instruction for Macaulay applicants.