A Harvard Dream Comes True

Many grew up dreaming of entering the world’s most prestigious university – Harvard University but only a select few could actually make it into the university. The strict set of entry requirements and its rigorous interview process make it extremely difficult for ordinary students to book a place in the dream university.

But for Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas student Eleasha Chew Sue Yuen, who knew since young that Harvard is her ultimate dream, she worked her way up to finally realised her dream. The first Malaysian to be accepted into Harvard in three years, Eleasha Chew shares some of her experiences in applying to Harvard and her memorable days at Taylor’s College, as well as her future plans.

Q: Congratulations on your acceptance into Harvard University! How do you feel about this achievement?
A: Harvard has always been a childhood dream for me and I feel so blessed to have been accepted. I am incredibly humbled and grateful for this opportunity, and I hope to make the best of it.

Q: Are there anyone that you would like to thank for the achievement?
A: This application journey has been challenging and I definitely could not have pulled through without the encouragement and strength I derived from so many people. I’d like to thank God, without whom nothing would have been possible, my wonderful family for their unfailing love and support, my amazing teachers and adult mentors for their generosity with their time and advice and my beautiful friends for believing in me and encouraging me to press on even when my dream seemed unattainable.

Q: Tell us about your experience throughout the entire process in applying into Harvard?
A: The Harvard application process which is typical of most universities in the States comprises of a few components – standardised tests, academic grades, essays, recommendations and the interview.

One of my absolute favourite things about the U.S. application process is the fact that it encourages such deep self-reflection. As such, a huge part of my journey was spent getting to know myself better through the discovery of my core beliefs and my passions. I had a very enjoyable time translating who I am as a person into the many essays I had to write.

My interview was facilitated by a panel of three interviewers who were all Harvard alumni. Rather than being your typical college admissions interview, the interview was a stimulating discussion on world issues, which really challenged my ability to think quickly and to weigh arguments. I loved how the focus was not so much on how much I already knew as it was on my thought process.

Q: What will you be pursuing at Harvard?
A: My interests are pretty diverse and I am still very much open to exploring new subject matter. However, at this point in time I am leaning towards Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Q: How did you enjoy your study at Taylor’s College?
A: Taking the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) at Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life thus far. It is by no means an easy programme, but it is a wonderful feeling to know that every day, I am stretching myself and learning something new. I love being in such an intellectually stimulating environment, created by teachers who cultivate a spirit of excellence, and peers who inspire with their genuine enthusiasm for knowledge and learning. I feel so blessed to have been part of such a wonderful community built on collaboration.

Q: How did Taylor’s College help you in your studies and in your efforts to get into Harvard?
A: Taylor’s College definitely played an important role in helping me become a more competitive applicant. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to have done the IB at Taylor’s because in retrospect, the IB is the perfect precursor to an American liberal arts education, in which students think and learn across disciplines. Like an American education, the IB integrates the arts and sciences and encourages students to approach knowledge from the viewpoints of different areas of knowledge, especially in the subject Theory of Knowledge (TOK). TOK really grew my love for critical thinking and reasoning – so much so that I even referred to TOK in my Harvard interview!

Taylor’s also gave me a platform to participate in things I was passionate about, like running a project along with my wonderful IB friends to invest in the sustainable development of a community in Beng Mealea, Cambodia. I was also very privileged to have had the opportunity to tutor four wonderful girls at an orphanage.

I’d like to give special mention to Ms. Lauren Wilson, the principal of Taylor’s College Sri Hartamas, for without her steadfast support and encouragement, I might not have had this amazing opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution. Ms. Lauren is very much unparalleled in terms of her dedication and genuine love for her students. I was very touched by how she really took time to understand me as a person when I approached her to write my counselor recommendation letter, and will never forget how she was willing to spend hours with me despite her busy schedule just so she could represent me accurately in my application to Harvard. Her presence at TCSH has made my college experience infinitely better. I’d also like to mention Ms. Navina and Ms. Prema, my lovely IB teachers, who willingly invested so much time and effort into writing me recommendations.

Q: What are your most unforgettable moments at Taylor’s College?
A: Taylor’s has given me so many wonderful memories of which I’m very grateful for. The moment which tops the list however, occurred during the Halloween event at TCSH. All the IB lecturers were incredibly sporting and dressed up as frightening zombies for the event, much to the amusement and delight of us students. That moment really encapsulates for me the amazing sense of community that I am so blessed with in the IB programme at TCSH.

Q: Now that you have gotten yourself into the most prestigious university in the world, what are your next goals in life?
A: I hope to use the opportunities and experiences I gain at Harvard to make a difference in this world. I am interested in education reform and in making healthcare more accessible, especially in rural communities.