Luke Hedrick of Haines has stood up to the judgment of Harvard admissions counselors. But that may be a breeze compared to what he'll face next year: the whims of 14-year-old girls.
Hedrick, 20, is one of 12 boys in YM magazine's year-long Last Boy Standing contest.
He and the other participants will perform a monthly task for readers of the magazine - in February he'll write a love letter to his ideal girl, in May he'll let the magazine publish his baby pictures - and each month readers will vote for their favorite contestant. The participant with the fewest votes will be removed from the contest each month.
"This is pretty tongue-in-cheek to me, though it certainly has an element of being very cool," said Hedrick, described on www.ym.com/lastboy as being "a deep-thinking Harvard junior who wears his heart on his sleeve."
He submitted his name in March to Sara Lyle, the primary editor of the project. The staff of the magazine chose Hedrick to be one of the contestants after some written communication and subsequent phone interviews.
"He's so intelligent and he's so sensitive," said Lyle from her office in New York City. "... It was kind of this sense of wonderment that he had about things. And he's good-looking too."
The 12 contestants, selected from 120 original applicants, were chosen for their geographic distribution - Hedrick had some advantage being from Alaska - personalities and looks, Lyle said.
The magazine, whose moniker stands for Your Magazine, subjected Hedrick to a photo shoot in Boston. The magazine's Web site contains an online profile of him, complete with his astrological sign, favorite comic book hero and favorite season.
"All of my friends definitely make fun of me about it, but they make fun of me no matter what," he said. "... They definitely have memorized some of the phrases in the interview and like to quote them around me."
Hedrick, who said he didn't read YM magazine until he entered this contest, is confident he can woo the magazine's readers.
"I can be into the 14-year-old in the romanticism department," said the computer science and psychology major. "It won't even be fair."
Although most of YM's approximately 9 million readers are girls between the age of 13 and 21, anybody can vote once a month in the online contest, Lyle said.
Hedrick's grandmother has already voted for him, he said, but he hasn't begged the rest of his friends and family for votes.
"I guess I'm kind of assuming they'll vote for me," Hedrick said.
He's not counting on winning the whole contest and the $10,000 that comes with the distinction, but he does hope to make a good showing, he said.
"I would certainly like to not be last," he said.
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.