Polk State dual enrollment student receives full ride to Princeton

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Matthew Ciccone is heading to Princeton University and credits Polk State College, Florida Virtual School Full Time, and the University of Florida for preparing him for the Ivy League. Additionally, as a QuestBridge Scholar, Ciccone received early admission and a full scholarship.

Of 37,601 applicants for the Class of 2025, Ciccone is one of only 1,498 – or 3.98 percent – to be admitted.

“My first reaction to receiving admission to Princeton University is that it was the perfect choice for me as an academically rigorous research institution. Further, it has a breadth of extracurricular opportunities which provide an enriching, well-rounded college experience. It is also a homecoming for me,” said Ciccone, who spent his early childhood in New Jersey before his studies in Florida. “It is a dream come true, thanks to a variety of factors including Polk State College.”

“It is a dream come true, thanks to a variety of factors including Polk State College.”

Ciccone learned about Polk State’s dual enrollment program through Florida Virtual School Full Time (FLVSFT), which he attended full-time since the fourth grade. The College’s dual enrollment program provides accelerated learning opportunities to academically talented students from all Polk County public secondary schools, most area private high schools, and students in home education programs. Dual enrollment allows high school students to take college classes and earn college credit while still in high school.

Ciccone’s journey through rigorous courses such as Calculus I at Polk State highlights another unique aspect of what dual enrollment can provide for high school students, he said.

“My experience as a dual enrollment student with both Polk State and the University of Florida has prepared me for the greater challenge of future college courses at Princeton University,” Ciccone shared. “I chose to pursue dual enrollment rather than an alternate path such as early graduation because I felt that it was a fantastic method for me to discover more about my future aspirations.”

He plans to study Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“I’m interested in being on the cutting edge of various types of research, specifically related to the human heart because my family has an extended history of heart health issues,” he said. “Finding ways to innovate and renovate artificial heart technology is a personal objective for me.”

Ciccone will get a jumpstart on his Princeton journey by participating virtually this summer in the Freshman Scholars Institute – a seven-week program that introduces freshmen to the intellectual, co-curricular, and social life at Princeton.

“Polk State’s courses and faculty have been instrumental in guiding my expectations and placement in future classes.”

In addition to his commitment to academic excellence, Ciccone is an avid cyclist and plans to try out for Princeton’s rowing team. He is currently in training at the Lake County Rowing Association in preparation for the latter goal.

“I’m enthusiastic regarding opportunities that Princeton has to offer, especially regarding the diverse methods of thinking among the brilliant minds in their community,” he shared. “Polk State’s courses and faculty have been instrumental in guiding my expectations and placement in future classes. I would highly recommend dual enrollment programs for students wishing to tailor their high school experience toward their specific interests in a challenging, unique manner.”

He added that none of this would have been possible without the support of Polk State Student Services Coordinator Mary Westgate.

“She has played a very important role in organizing my dual enrollment experience,” Ciccone said with gratitude. “In many ways, she has proven to be one of my biggest supporters and integral to ensuring the success of my dual enrollment experience. I am thankful to her, Polk State College, Florida Virtual School, and QuestBridge for the opportunities they have afforded me.”