Not since video surfaced of Mark Zuckerberg reading his acceptance letter to his father has the Internet been so enthralled by footage of a student finding out that he got into Harvard University.
Ayrton Little, a 16-year-old student at TM Landry College Preparatory, a school in rural Louisiana, set Twitter ablaze this week after he posted a clip of himself, surrounded by classmates, nervously opening a message from the prestigious Cambridge school.
In the video, Little is clad in a Harvard sweatshirt as he stares intently at a computer screen, searching for the acceptance notification.
With the click of the computer’s mouse, he receives the good news that he’s long been waiting for: Welcome to the Harvard College class of 2022. In an instant, the students huddled around Little begin to jump around and scream, as their classmate flies from his seat with excitement.
The video of Little’s reaction has been viewed more than 5 million times since it first appeared online Tuesday. The tweet has been shared by more than 140,000 people and received nearly half a million “likes.”
“That was not the goal. The goal was to show all of my friends that I got into Harvard, but it turned into showing the whole world that I got into Harvard,” Little said in a telephone interview with the Globe Thursday. “It’s amazing to see how much support I am getting from people that I don’t even know. It’s so much support, I had to turn off all of my notifications because my phone kept crashing.”
Little, who has dreamed of attending Harvard for “as long as I can remember,” was one of 964 prospective students accepted to the class of 2022 this week, as part of its early action program.
The school saw increases in first-generation college students, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians in the recently admitted class, officials said.
Michael Landry, founder and principal of TM Landry College Preparatory, said Little is the third student from the small school who has been welcomed to Harvard in as many years.
He said the video of Little was taken in what they call the “situation room,” where students gather together in a show of support as their classmates open acceptance letters and learn their fate.
“Typically we do that for all of the students. Whether they get in or they don’t get in, we want them to know that we support them as a family,” he said. “We want all students to know that with hard work and grit, you can always overcome your circumstances if you just keep your head down and take care of your education.”
Landry said Little worked hard during his four years at the school — including summers — to accumulate credits, which is why he is graduating and gearing up for college at such a young age. He turns 17 in February.
Little’s older brother, Alex, also had reason to celebrate this week. Just days before Little was accepted to Harvard, Alex found out that he got into Stanford University. A video of his reaction has been viewed nearly 1 million times on Twitter.
The brothers, who were raised by a single mother, said they’re OK with going their separate ways and attending schools on opposite coasts.
“It’s the Littles versus the world,” Alex said. “So far, we are on the winning side, I like to think.”
The excitement is still raw, and the hard work they put in through high school is nearly behind them. But the journey for the two brothers is just beginning, Ayrton Little added.
“We’ve still got some fighting to do,” he said.