(Kathy Williams)

Just a few months after her 18th birthday, Carolina Williams has suddenly hit the national spotlight for 196 words that she sent to Yale University.

“I never really understood the concept of viral until now,” she said.

The teenager from Brentwood, Tenn., wrote a college admissions essay about her love for Papa John’s Pizza. (Click the yellow highlights for more.)

“When the delivery person rings my doorbell, I instantly morph into one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating to the sound that signals the arrival of the cheesy, circular glory. It smells like celebration, as I love to rejoice a happy occasion by calling Papa John’s for my favorite food.”

Williams was admitted.

“I laughed so hard on your pizza essay. I kept thinking that you are the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with,” a Yale admissions officer wrote in an email.

Williams and her friends thought it would be funny to tweet the pizza company, which has responded with free pizzas and offers of an internship, she said. Then her local newspaper wrote a story about it, and it took off from there.

That’s how we got here.

Speaking to The Washington Post from orientation at Auburn University in Alabama, Williams described her newfound fame.

“I’d walk into a place and they’d go, ‘Oh, it’s the pizza girl,’ which is a great reputation, honestly.”

They would also ask why she chose Auburn over Yale, she said.

“Auburn was just personally a better fit for me. I felt more at home here. It was just a gut feeling.”

When asked why she loves Papa John’s above all the other pizzas out there, Williams, who says she is the first person in her family to go to college, said that she will eat pretty much any pizza put in front of her but that something about Papa John’s brings her back.

“I’ve been ordering there since I was little. It’s such a classic to me.”

And I love their garlic sauce.”

Click on the highlighted sections to see more about Carolina Williams, including the other college essay that Yale praised. Also, see why college counselors thought the essay was successful and a possible reason a Yale admissions officer would write the student a note.

The Yale University application essay: (“Write about something that you love to do”)

The sound of my doorbell starts off high, then the pitch mellows out, and the whole effect mimics an instrumental interpretation of rain finally finding a steady pace at which to fall. I have spent several minutes analyzing its tone because I have had many opportunities to do so, as one thing I love to do is order pizza and have it delivered to my house. When the delivery person rings my doorbell, I instantly morph into one of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating to the sound that signals the arrival of the cheesy, circular glory. It smells like celebration, as I love to rejoice a happy occasion by calling Papa John’s for my favorite food. It tastes like comfort, since having pizza delivered to my quiet home is a way for me to unwind. It looks like self-sufficiency, because when I was young, ordering pizza made me feel grown-up, and it still provides that satisfaction for my child at heart. Accepting those warm cardboard boxes is second nature to me, but I will always love ordering pizza because of the way eight slices of something so ordinary are able to evoke feelings of independence, consolation, and joy.

Handwritten note on invitation letter to Yale’s Bulldog Saturday:

“Carolina,

Congratulations on your acceptance and welcome to Yale! I absolutely loved reading your application. Your essay on reading 100 books in a year was so passionate, fun, and likable and, as a fellow lover of pizza, I laughed out loud (then ordered pizza) after reading your application. Yale would be lucky to have you, and I know …”

Email from the regional Yale admissions officer

“I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read your application. As someone who kept trying to read books for fun on tops of thousands of applications this winter, I really loved your essay on reading 100 books in a year and I laughed so hard on your pizza essay. I kept thinking that you are the kind of person that I would love to be best friends with. I want you to know that every part of your application stood out in our process and we are thrilled to be able to offer you a spot at Yale …”