Daria Rose's Long Island home burned to the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

By Alex Heigl
Updated April 20, 2015 08:55 AM
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Like many New Yorkers, Daria Rose’s family was forced to flee their Baldwin, Long Island, home during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. They had no way of knowing that it would be the last time they ever saw it.

When they returned, they discovered the home had been destroyed by a fire and for the next year and a half, the family was forced to to live in a succession of hotels and Rose’s grandmother’s house before they finally settled in a new home.

But through it all, and despite losing all her belongings, Rose, now 18, kept up with her school work. When it came time to apply to colleges, she decided to apply to Yale – and six other Ivy League schools. “I’ve always known I wanted to go to Yale,” Rose told ABC News. “But junior year I started looking at all my options and I realized how many great schools there were out there.”

Rose wrote about her experience during Hurricane Sandy for her application essays. “The focus is how reading helped me cope,” she said. “I was living in these small spaces but in my head I was able to escape find myself in a literary world.”

On March 31, Rose looked online as the schools she applied to started posting their admission decisions. “I went home and checked Harvard first, and then Princeton, and then Brown and as they kept coming in I was just astonished. I couldn’t even breathe,” Rose said. “It was an amazing moment.”

“I couldn’t believe it,” she added. “I thought I’d get in maybe one or two.”

Rose, who plans to study political science and Russian literature, has until May 1 to decide. Whatever her decision, the lessons she learned from Sandy continue to inform her life.

“My mom and my dad and my family, they made me realize what was important,” she said. “Stuff is just stuff. What is important is your health, education, your family.”