MassBay student, Marine vet nabs extremely rare Harvard transfer spot

MassBay student, Marine vet nabs extremely rare Harvard transfer spot

WELLESLEY, Mass. — The odds of getting into Harvard as a transfer student are less than one percent.

Natick native James Casey admits he wasn't a great student in high school. But his passion to serve his country motivated him through Marine training and four years of active duty.

"If you had told me seven years ago when I was in high school that I would be going to Harvard one day, I would have laughed at you," Casey told Boston 25 News. "I squandered some opportunities in high school and I didn’t want to do that again now that I was given a second chance at school.”

Content Continues Below

James made the most of it. The 24-year-old has been on the dean’s list every semester since he started at MassBay Community College in 2017.

Months before graduation, his communications teacher had an idea: apply to Harvard.

"She just kind of on a whim told me that if I applied, the worst they could do was say no," Casey said. "I might have a real solid chance of getting in."

Just 12 transfer students are accepted to the Ivy League school out of 1,600.

James took a chance and got in. MassBay officials believe he's the first graduate to transfer to Harvard.

"This idea that MassBay is like an extension of high school and that it’s not real college, it’s not true," Casey said.

He will graduate Thursday with a 3.96 grade point average and study psychology at Harvard. His dream is to be a sports reporter.

"Neither of my parents went to college, so to have their son going to Harvard, it’s really, I think it’s a very special thing for them," he said.

Casey plans to stay on Harvard’s campus in the dorms. It’ll be one of only two times he’s ever been to Cambridge. The first time, was when he showed up for his interview.