BERRYVILLE — Julia Thompson may be the first Clarke County High School student to be accepted at prestigious Stanford, a private university in northern California considered one of the world’s leading research institutions sitting on one of the largest campuses in the world, more than 8,000 acres.

“[Clarke] administrators told me I’m the first to go to Stanford,” the 17-year-old said.

In fact, she’s already been to Stanford, having completed eight classes there as a summer student. Julia will begin her full-time undergraduate studies in the fall with a 3.7 GPA at the institution.

Julia, the elder of Ann and Wes Thompson’s two children, graduates from Clarke County at the top of her class of 180. She has a 4.89 GPA (on a 5.0 scale). When she was 12, she took a calculus class at Shenandoah University “and I got an A,” she said proudly.

At Stanford, Julia plans to triple major in psychology, international relations and public policy.

“Honestly, I guess I’m just curious. Fun fact — I can’t sleep in cars, so when [our family] took road trips, I’d read road signs and anything else. That’s when I realized that by reading I could learn more.”

In 2013, Julia founded Bracelets for a Brighter Future to raise funds for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“Mental health issues affect so many kids, and when people talk about mental health, they use words like ‘crazy.’ That’s just wrong,” Julia said.

Ultimately, Julia wants to expand her nonprofit organization in order to provide mental health resources to developing countries.

“Mental health care in the United States is inadequate, but it doesn’t compare to what exists in developing countries,” Julia said.

Her International Baccalaureate independent research project at CCHS focused on the quality of mental health care as it relates to one’s income.

Julia is excited about heading off to California. “I’m ready to go. Stanford offers so many opportunities. I’ll travel by plane, so I’m traveling light,” she said.

— Contact Cathy Kuehner at

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