Harvard College Admits Four Malaysians To Class Of 2028

Harvard College Admits Four Malaysians To Class Of 2028

Kuala Lumpur, 6 April 2024. Harvard College, the undergraduate school of Harvard University, has admitted four Malaysian students to the undergraduate class of 2028. The four students are Mr Bryan Lim from Kuala Lumpur, Mr Victor Ngow from Selangor, Ms Elisa See from Johor and Ms Thamini Vijeyasingam from Selangor. In total, Harvard College admitted 1,937 students from a total of 54,008 applications, an admission rate of 3.59%. The four are among the 15.4% of international students from across 94 countries to be selected to attend Harvard College.

Bryan completed his IGCSEs at Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur, while Victor completed his SPM at SMK Damansara Utama, Selangor. In addition, Thamini completed her secondary school studies at ELC International School in Sungai Buloh while Elisa did so at Marlborough College Malaysia in Iskandar Puteri, Johor. Victor is also a Petronas scholar.

The four admitted students have diverse interests. Bryan intends to major in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Victor intends to major in Environmental Science and Public Policy or Environmental Engineering, Elisa looks to major in Government (Political Science) and Economics or Computer Science, while Thamini plans to study Economics and Philosophy.

Harvard College continues to provide need-blind admission to all applicants with generous financial aid policy for low- and middle-income families. The cost to attend Harvard College will be free for families with annual incomes falling below $85,000 (~RM375,000, excluding home equity). Nearly 25% of Harvard College students come from families earning below this threshold. The Admissions and Financial Aid office estimated that 55% of admits will qualify for need-based grants, reducing the average costs for families on financial aid to around $13,000 annually. Since launching the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative in 2005 the University has awarded more than $3 billion in support, and its annual aid budget has risen more than 200%, from $80 million to
$246 million in 2023. All first-year students from families with incomes of less than $85,000 with typical assets will also receive a $2,000 start-up grant to help with move- in costs and other expenses incurred in the transition to College. This grant was launched in 2016.

“Harvard admissions is need-blind and financial aid is 100% need-based, meaning that students are admitted solely based on who they are, and not whether they can pay, regardless of socio-economic background. If a student is admitted, Harvard is committed to ensuring that they can afford to attend. This gives an opportunity to talented students across the globe, including Malaysia, to be part of the Harvard community”, said Wan Nadiah, one of the two alumni interviewers for Harvard College and President of the Harvard Club of Malaysia.

According to Wan Nadiah, “The question we often ponder as interviewers is, “What would not have existed if not for this person?” We are interested in students who demonstrate a deep commitment to their interests and who have expanded their energy in creative ways to build something meaningful. They have the intellectual curiosity and inner motivation to become the catalysts for the people and organisations

around them to do more and do better. And every year it has been our privilege to listen and learn how these talented young Malaysians have contributed to those around them in big and small ways.”

Alumni interviewer, Nick Khaw, added, “As always, the pool of candidates we interviewed was outstanding and represent the very best of Malaysia. They are all exceptional individuals and are on a terrific trajectory to make a difference to the world. For instance, among the candidates who were admitted, Bryan has represented Malaysia at the national level in the Mathematics and Computer Science Olympiads, as well as in junior basketball, potentially being Malaysia’s future Jeremy Lin! Bryan has also built apps in different spaces, with one tracking sleep habits and another in predicting land slides which he has shared with disaster management authorities in Malaysia.”

Similarly, Victor has also been a tinkerer, inventing a micro biofuel cell for a Chemistry Innovation competition, based on research on nano-structured electrodes. He has also been heavily involved in Project ID, an NGO founded by a few Teach for Malaysia Alumni that provides opportunities for students from low-income communities to supplement the secondary education cycle. Working on Project ID’s Young Educators Challenge, he worked with classmates to innovate an online class to teach Physics using Roblox. Victor also stepped out of his comfort zone to work as an emcee for several years at events, meeting different people who later inspired him to learn more about different issues from economic policy to youth engagement.

Nadiah said, “What we see in common among these four outstanding young men and women are a sense of drive and resourcefulness towards purposeful pursuits, be it academic, athletic, community service, journalism, and more. Take Elisa for instance. Through her own initiatives – cold-calling and even direct messaging on Instagram, she secured various internships with organisations such as Undi18, Ypolitics, RAGE Journalism and the office of YB Michelle Ng, in order to pursue her interest in political engagement and activism. As a student journalist, she made a documentary about Kachin refugees and how the teachers at the schools are often ex-students as they are not given the right to work in Malaysia. In another internship, she created video about the recent heat wave and how it affects farmers. It will be interesting to see how her talent for communication combined with her passion for political activism will have an impact on society in the future.”

In addition, Nick added that, “Thamini took a gap year after her A-Levels and completed two internships during that time period. She interned at the FreeMalaysiaToday business desk as well as at KAF Investment Bank, working on their Digital Bank project. What is especially impressive is that she reached out to those internships on her own, via organisations that she was involved with such as Zenerations Malaysia and the International Council of Malaysian Scholars. Furthermore, she is very active in debate, having participated in a variety of national and regional competitions as well as Model United Nations. She is also very well-read, reading books that are far outside of what she would need to in the classroom.”

“The Harvard Club of Malaysia would like to congratulate Bryan, Victor, Elisa and Thamini on their offers of admission to Harvard College. We hope their stories will

further inspire and motivate students from all over Malaysia to apply to Harvard and other Ivy League schools. We believe that the opportunities that come from a liberal arts education with world class faculty and resources should be accessible to anyone regardless of income and socio-economic background. As interviewers we are also privileged to meet these young, talented students. They have so much energy, passion and creativity and are unafraid of engaging with large, complex problems that interest them. The way they see the world reminds us that there is always something even one person can do to change things for the better”, said Nadiah.

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The mission of Harvard College is to educate the citizens and citizen-leaders for our society. We do this through our commitment to the transformative power of a liberal arts and sciences education. In Malaysia, there are currently less than 10 alumni of Harvard College. For further queries, please contact Wan Nadiah at [email protected] or Nick Khaw at [email protected]

Nadiah Wan
President, Harvard Club of Malaysia
AB ’07


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