PETALING JAYA: They were not the cream of the crop in school but two Malaysians will step into one of the world’s top higher education institutions.
Mohamed Aqil Azmi and Zad Chin Qi Qi, both 20, will share the honour with over 200 international students who have been granted admission into Harvard College in Massachusetts.
Aqil was a student at Sekolah Agama Menengah Tinggi Tengku Ampuan Jemaah Shah Alam while Chin was from SMJK Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh.
Both, who are scheduled to leave for the United States in August, are now pursuing their A-Levels at Kolej Yayasan UEM, Lembah Beringin, Selangor, under Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and Yayasan Khazanah scholarships respectively, which will be extended to cover their Harvard stint.Chin, who will study Computer Science and Social Studies, said she was not even top of her class in secondary school.
“And my college does not have a ranking system, so I do not know,” said the Ipoh native whose dream was to study in the US.
She said she has been into robotics since secondary school and aspired to become an engineer or a computer scientist.
“I wish to understand society better to create technology to suit their needs,” she said.
Chin founded two non-profit bodies – BASE Scholarship and Beating Automation with Education (Project BAWE) – to mentor children living in urban poverty via personalised coaching sessions. Under her leadership, the project has been rolled out to two low-cost housing areas in Kuala Lumpur.
Aqil, who will study Mathematics and Philosophy, said he considered himself an “above average” student.
He said he became more active in debates and the student council while doing his A-Levels.
“I was drawn to the flexible undergraduate system (in the US) where I have the freedom to choose what classes I want to take, even if it’s unrelated to my course,” he said.
Upon graduation, Aqil said he would like to pursue a Masters in Philosophy.
The youngest of three siblings from Shah Alam said his parents were overjoyed with his acceptance into the Ivy League institution.
Out of 40,248 applicants for Harvard College’s Class of 2024, only 1,980 students were admitted. The last time a Malaysian was admitted was in 2017.
Harvard College alumni Wan Nadiah Wan Mohd Abdullah Yaakob said any student accepted into Harvard would receive full needs-based financial aid for all four years of study regardless of nationality.
“It has always been its mission to ensure that every student is able to pursue his or her studies regardless of financial status,” said Wan Nadiah, who is TMC Life Sciences Bhd group CEO and the Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara CEO.
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