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Former Teen Andouille sets sights on Harvard

RESERVE — Riverside Academy junior Kash’mir Foley will spend seven weeks on the campus of the prestigious Harvard University this summer, where she’ll earn eight college credits and forward her dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Foley was recently accepted into Harvard’s Secondary School Program, a summer school experience that immerses a select group of high school students in a college setting from June through August.

Having secured $7,800 in financial aid, Foley is looking forward to taking on a challenging college curriculum.

This summer could serve as a preview of the next few years of her life. With ambitions to attend college out-of-state, Foley sees Harvard becoming a more permanent home after 12th grade graduation.

“I’m looking forward to getting the feel for a college campus and getting to do the work,” Foley said.

“I do a lot of college papers here with dual enrollment classes, but this is a whole new level.”

Foley has spent years working toward a bright future by attending various cardiac camps at Tulane Medical Center and Touro Infirmary.

Dissecting a pig heart, surveying the inside of an ambulance, earning CPR certification and learning from cardiologists and radiologists has prepared her for a career in the medical profession.

Foley said she originally wanted to work to cure cancer as an oncologist, but a suggestion from her uncle led her to explore cardiology.

“He told me to look into hearts and see if I liked it,” Foley said. “I ended up completely falling in love with it, and now that’s all I want to do. I enjoy helping people a lot.”

Chemistry teacher Andrew DiMaggio said it’s rare to see a young person so passionate about science.

“I’ve known Kash’mir just this year in my honors chemistry class,” DiMaggio said. “It’s a subject kids generally don’t like, and she’s one of the few students who comes in with this smile and excitement on her face.”

He said Kash’mir is always mentally present in class and regularly asks questions.

“I can’t think of anything about Kash’mir that isn’t over-the-top excellent,” DiMaggio said. “Her drive for academics and athletics and her personality make her someone who wants to succeed. She’ll go all out to get what she needs and wants.”

In October 2016, Foley won the Teen Andouille Queen title and spent the next year promoting St. John the Baptist Parish’s history and culture at events around Louisiana. She said the experience allowed her to meet a host of new people and ultimately made her a better person.

Foley has consistently achieved principal’s list in all honors classes, with her only “B” coming from a first-semester freshman year fine arts class.

A competitor in sports, Foley traveled to the playoffs this year for basketball and volleyball. She attends Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings every Thursday before school because faith is a large part of her life.

Family is another inspiration, especially her grandmother and cousins.

Being respectful to everyone and helpful to those in need is a mantra she lives by.

“Being a good student means being a person people can depend on and never trying to be better than other people,” Foley said. “Do what you have to do to be great, but also take time to help others.”

Foley is the daughter of Kiandre Burdell and Floyd Foley Jr.