When incoming freshman Kevin Yang learned he was accepted to Harvard College, he quickly wrote and thanked one of the people who helped him the most — Tri Huynh. As a Harvard student, Huynh, now a teacher in California, tutored Yang once a week at Harvard’s Education Portal in Allston.
Opened in 2008, Harvard’s Ed Portal serves as a cooperation agreement between Harvard and the city of Boston to bring the University’s greatest strengths of teaching and research to the Allston-Brighton community.
For Yang, who moved many times during his middle and high school years, the Ed Portal was a constant. “We’ve lived all over Massachusetts, and moving so often was difficult,” Yang said. “High school was very stressful, and writing my college essay helped me reflect on my identity.”
While Yang’s parents worked — his mother is a nurse and his father a scientist — Yang’s grandparents drove him back and forth from the Ed Portal several times each week. These days they drive his younger brother Neil there for his mentoring sessions.
Noting his parents high regard for education, Yang said: “You’re always stepping on the backs of your parents to go further. Getting into Harvard is a new experience for all of us — it has been a roller coaster ride. At the end of the day, they are proud of me.”
Incoming freshman, Kevin Yang, foreground, and his family, at their home. From left, Yi Jin, Kevin’s mother; grandfather, Yongshou Jin; brother, Neil Jin and grandmother, Yi Qun Zhu. His dad, Hailin Yang, not pictured, was at work.
A shelf in the living room displays Kevin’s many awards and some family photos.
Kevin reads his acceptance letter to Harvard.
Kevin’s younger brother, Neil, looks up to him.
Neil takes Kevin’s longboard for a ride in their neighborhood.
Kevin’s grandfather, Yongshou Jin, speaks Shanghainese. Kevin speaks English, Latin, Chinese, Spanish, and Shanghainese.
For several years, Kevin’s grandparents drove him to and from the Ed Portal, school, and other activities. Currently, Kevin is in the driver’s seat with his learner’s permit while his grandfather instructs him from the passenger seat.
Kevin attended Boston Latin School, the oldest school in America, founded in 1635.
Five signers of the Declaration of Independence along with many other notable historic figures attended BLS.
Kevin graduated in June.
Kevin and Neil pose inside the Harvard EdPortal. When Kevin attended, the Ed Portal was across the street from its current location at 224 Western Ave. in Allston. Membership is free and hundreds of students like Yang take advantage of the Allston-Brighton mentoring program, which pairs a Harvard student with a local youth.
Neil plays a computer game, while Kevin looks on. Remembering his own mentor, Kevin says, “He was more than a tutor — he was a real person, he helped me to chill. He recognized my human side … he also saw my interest in biology and helped me with my studies.”
On freshmen move-in day, Kevin, returning from his Freshman Orientation Program (FOP), greets Catherine Zhang ’19, on left, while his mother, Yi Jin and father Hailin, look on. Yi Jin rejoiced when she saw her son following his FOP of hiking and camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Kevin greets his new roommate, T.J. Song (right) of Gilroy, Calif. They’ll share a room, part of a suite in Weld Hall.
In Harvard Yard, Kevin checks his new Harvard ID, comparing it to the one from Boston Latin, and noting how much he has changed.
Kevin hugs his mother. His father, Hailin, said he would miss work to be at move-in day partly so he could, “park the car in Harvard Yard.” The family car is to the left.