← Back to portfolio
Published on

Perfect student has his ACT together



Michael Hafeman is propitious.
This means he is:
A) Worthy of reverence
B) Discerning, sound in judgment
C) Full of promise, fortunate
D) All of the above
OK, students, before you answer this question, consider this -- the 17-year-old in question recently learned he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT, a college entrance exam.
Did you answer D? Well, while that might seem correct, as Hafeman obviously deserves all the accolades, the answer is C.
And where you might have gotten the answer wrong, odds are 36-1 that Hafeman wouldn't have.
The son of Mike Hafeman, of East Dubuque, and Dawne Smith, of Dubuque, went into the test expecting to do OK.
"I was hoping for a 32, and I thought I'd be pretty close to that, but I knew I could always retake (the test) if I didn't do well," he said.
So Hafeman studied -- minimally, he admits -- and even then, his efforts remained mainly confined to the practice tests delivered by his teachers. Then a few weeks later, he received a text message from his girlfriend saying her score had arrived in the mail. Hafeman headed out to his mailbox and found the official envelope. He opened it and immediately his heart sank.
"I saw the big 36 and thought it must be a mistake," Hafeman said. "I couldn't really believe it, and at first, I kept trying to think of reasons why it couldn't be right."
Just when he started accepting the score, he faced the doubt of others.
"My girlfriend didn't believe me at all," he said. "I had to take a picture of it to send to her."
Now that the truth has sunk in, the East Dubuque High School student sort of shrugs it off.
"I've gotten over the shock, I guess," he said.
School officials can't say the same.
"Excited? I guess you could say we were. But I'd say it's more like ecstatic," said East Dubuque High School Principal Greg Herbst. "That's not practically perfect. It is perfect. And that's a hard thing to accomplish."
Correction, say ACT officials. It's a very hard thing to accomplish. According to them, annually, about 636 students nationwide -- which is less than 0.1 percent of students taking the test -- achieve the coveted score.
Only 115 Illinois students stand with Hafeman this year, and only three tri-state-area students have pulled off perfection since 2000.
Fewer still manage to impress as Hafeman does, ACT officials say, as the 4.0-student scored perfectly the first time he took the test. 
Yes, you read right -- the first time.
"I've always had good grades and scored high on standardized tests, but this is something more than that," Hafeman said.
Just a tad, Herbst said.
"I've been a principal for 12 years, and he's the first perfect score I've ever seen," he said. "This is going to open the door to just about any college he wants to attend. They're going to be very welcoming, let's just say that."
Hafeman sent his score to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which would be an obvious choice for him to pursue his desired career of mechanical engineering, but he says it's "unlikely" he'll attend an Ivy League school.
"It's too far away," he said.
Instead, he has set his sights on either Iowa State University or the University of Illinois.
"I'm just hoping this score means I don't have to pay as much to go to school," he said.
According to his calculations, this seems reasonable, and as we know, his calculations are typically accurate.


(Photo from Accuracy in Academia) 
Close