Yale, the ‘new haven’ for two M’sians

Tyler: Remember that the only factor which can affect your admissions is how you build your application, so focus on that.

WHEN Tyler Evan Lewis found out that he had won the “golden ticket” to study at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in the United States, he was filled with anticipation for the dreams he would be able to fulfil and the contributions he would be able to make as a global citizen.

“I aspire to put to good use what I will learn at this amazing institution.

“I don’t want to get a degree just to land myself a high-paying job; rather, I want to gain from a challenging curriculum the deepest understanding of the topic I am most interested in, which will allow me to join others in my field of interest to make a change in the world,” said the 18-year-old who will be studying ecology and evolutionary biology.

Set to commence his undergraduate studies this month, Tyler will be joined at the university by fellow Malaysian Sahana Kaur, who is also 18.

The only two students from Malaysia who had been admitted to Yale University’s Class of 2026, both Tyler and Sahana are part of the 4.46% of 50,015 applicants accepted this year.

While their feat was recent, it was many years in the making, with both students juggling multiple responsibilities throughout their time in secondary school in order to perform well not only academically, but also in their extracurriculars.

In fact, Tyler shared that his road to Yale had begun since he was a preschooler.

“I have played cricket ever since I was three, pursuing it to the highest level, along with football, softball, swimming, athletics and basketball.

“I have also kept an eye out for leadership positions; so instead of just being a follower, I took the initiative to become the captain of my school and state teams for these sports, which fits the description of a competitive Ivy League applicant,” he told StarEdu.

Sahana: It’s important to know that grades are just one part of the application for colleges in the US; extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation are just as important.Sahana: It’s important to know that grades are just one part of the application for colleges in the US; extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation are just as important.

Emphasising the need to embrace a holistic approach to life, the former head prefect at The Alice Smith School said he was also involved in initiating startups as the leader of a medical club.

“Yale looks for students who can do well in their studies and balance that with extracurricular pursuits, which reflects the style of education in the US.

“My outlook on life is similar to that – not only specialising in one aspect but instead, finding a variety of activities that I like doing, and keeping a balanced timetable to allow myself to continue doing them without sacrificing one for the other,” he said. Sahana, too, shared that she focused “a lot of time” in secondary school on being involved in projects and activities that she enjoyed.

“Some of my favourite activities were doing backstage and set design work for school productions, organising and participating in a few climate-related conferences, and doing community work via my school’s student leadership system,” the former Garden International School student recalled.

The most challenging aspect, she shared, was balancing those activities with academics, since “I tend to get super engrossed in my extracurriculars”.

The aspiring political science major said while her main academic interests are politics and climate science, she plans on taking some courses in economics and urban studies – while adding that she is particularly excited about exploring New Haven, meeting her roommates and experiencing the snow.On what keeps her driven as a student, Sahana pointed to her parents as her motivational force.

“I’ve seen and heard about how hard my parents worked to overcome much bigger obstacles than I’ve faced, and that pushes me to take advantage of the opportunities I’ve been given and to do well,” she said.

For Tyler, he is spurred on by the hope that the knowledge he will gain can help the human race for many years to come.

“I am focused on pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Learning about environmental science and biology at Yale will present many options for me – be it through joining the medical field as a doctor, or through working on conservation efforts as a wildlife biologist,” he said.

As the days are nearing for him to set foot on campus grounds, Tyler is looking forward to making his mark on the sports fields as part of the Yale Bulldogs – the intercollegiate athletic teams that represent the university.

“I am also excited to be a part of a student body of like-minded people, who each love what they do and want to pursue it to the highest level.

“Being constantly challenged inside and outside of the classroom with friendly competition from these elite students will allow me to develop as a person, as I will constantly be on my feet, thinking of ways to improve,” he said.

“I also look forward to joining my brother Bradley, who is a computer science sophomore at Yale,” he added.

Tyler advised students who aim to gain entry into a prestigious university like Yale to buckle down and work hard.

“The preparations you have to make are going to be extremely tough. You will inevitably have to battle immense disappointment, hardship, and even the temptation to give up midway.

“My main advice is that whenever you feel like giving up, think about how grateful you will be when you see your efforts bear fruit,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of pursuing extracurriculars that the students themselves truly enjoy.

“What you do outside of the classroom should not be done for any purpose other than your love for doing it.

“The universities will clearly notice if you are trying to craft a padded application, so stick to your passions,” he said.

He also reminded students to not make the same mistake he did at the beginning of the application season.

“Don’t compare yourself with other applicants. It is bound to make you stressed and doubtful of the strength of your application – just remember that the only factor which can affect your admissions is how you build your application, so focus on that,” he added.

Sahana recommended students who vie to study in the US to “be as resourceful as possible”.

“There are loads of resources online with help on interviews and essay-writing, among others.

“It’s important to know that grades are just one part of the application for colleges there; extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation are just as important.”

Hoi Kei, 20, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

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