Isaac Mitchell always expected to go to college. What he didn't expect was an invitation to Yale University.
Mitchell, a high school senior and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was recruited last fall by Yale after his football and academic prowess caught their attention on social media.
"I was able to get a good score on the ACTs and some Ivy League schools started looking at me. Yale became an opportunity for me in the past couple of months," Mitchell said. "I really wasn't even considering (Ivy League schools). I didn't think I'd be able to be accepted. They started following me on Twitter and that's when it became a real opportunity."
Mitchell earned all-state football honors in Kansas, where he was born and raised. He now attends South High School in Salina. He's also a 2018 5A state champion in the javelin throw. After he posted his senior highlight film on Twitter, Yale coaches saw it and sent Mitchell a direct message expressing their interest.
"Growing up, sports have been my true love. I've always been a three-sport athlete," Mitchell said. "I play football in the fall. Every single year except this year I played basketball. I'm sitting it out from an injury. In the spring, I do track and I throw javelin and shot put."
In December, Mitchell and his mother, Tracy Workman, went to Yale for an official visit. Though Mitchell also visited other colleges, Yale won him over.
"Coming from the Midwest, I'd never been to the East Coast. Going up there and talking to the players and coaches, it made me realize I felt at home. They're good people. It's a hard place to turn down. I can get a great education," he said.
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Though Yale doesn't offer athletic scholarships, Mitchell will have all four years of school paid for through scholarships and other financial aid, he said. He hasn't chosen a major yet, although he's considering business finance or civil engineering. Although Mitchell said some Yale players have gone to the NFL, his focus is primarily on learning.
"I'm trying to get an education and be prepared out of college to get a job and find a place that I like that fits," Mitchell said.
Although Mitchell lives in Kansas with his mother, he visits South Dakota several times a year to see his father, Paul Mitchell of Rosebud. Fewer than 1 percent of Yale students are Native American.
Mitchell is looking forward to all the opportunities ahead for him.
"Going to the East Coast was a whole new experience. Just the fact that I'm starting new in a whole new area of the country, that's pretty exciting," he said.
He also has some advice for other students who aspire to go to college.
"The whole thing is to keep working every day at school. You can't just not go to school. You have to give it all of your effort and people will find you. You put in the effort, you put in the work and you will be rewarded. Yale is something way beyond any of my expectations," Mitchell said.