Class of 2017 Valedictorian, Brian Shin (Shin Seung Hoon), is a recipient of the CIS Loyalty Award having attended CIS from Grade 1 up to Grade 12. This school year, he has entered NYU Abu Dhabi on a full scholarship, majoring in Engineering.
Explain your experience with the IB Diploma Programme in 3 words
Brian: “Wall Climbing Race”
Wall climbing / Rock climbing is a sport that requires one’s full attention and strong persistence to successfully reach the top, the objective. Climbers need to pick the right climbing holds in order to gradually yet surely approach the top. It is purely the climber’s own decision to choose his/her path towards the top, while aiming to optimize the time given to them. No matter which path you take, it is going to be very difficult. What matters is persevering your way through. By the time you reach the top, you will realize how much you accomplished. There may be times when you fall back, but, again, what matters is staying in the game and pushing yourself to the top. The same goes for IB.
Louise: “Challenging, Radical, Enlightening”
Challenging – I lost count of how many times I felt frustrated.
Radical – I had been enrolled in a local school all my student life before coming to CIS. Thus, the IBDP curriculum was completely different from the curriculum that I was familiar with. However, the change helped me became more expressive and it motivated me many a times to go out of my comfort zone.
Enlightening – the IB did not only expand my academic knowledge but also the knowledge I have of myself. Had I not taken the IB Diploma Programme, I may have never seen the beauty in analyzing and interpreting literature.
What have you learned from your years at CIS that will help (or helped) you prepare for university life abroad?
Brian: The learnings that I gained from CIS exceeds mere academic education. In my point of view, the most important concept that I’ve learned was embracing varying perspectives, whether one agrees or disagrees. Keeping an open mind to unprecedented opinions and thoughts certainly increases one’s exposure to learning opportunities and enables one to embrace diversity.
Louise: I learned that motivation comes from within and that respect for cultural diversity is important. Also, I should never shy away from risks. I must step out of my comfort zone to grow.
How did you feel when you were chosen as a full scholar?
Brian: Scholarship at NYU Abu Dhabi is not a luxury; it is an investment. An investment that encourages scholars to fully engage in their fields of passion. The university advocates the idea of multidisciplinary education alongside its liberal arts system; hence being chosen as a full scholar, I felt eager to take advantage of the resources provided for study and delighted to join an academic institution that shared a similar vision about education and the world in general.
Louise: I don’t think I can answer this question without laughing at myself. I was scared to the point that it took me almost a month, I think, to accept the offer. I knew that the scholarship was such a great blessing but that was exactly why I was apprehensive. I was unsure whether I was ready for what was to come my way. In hindsight, I should have spent more time celebrating the news. As Mr. Tony Harduar (past Superintendent) said, “One small act of applying for CIS and then finally saying yes is paying such big dividends.”
What activities (whether academic or extracurricular) helped you the most in getting this scholarship?
Brian: There aren’t specific activities or steps towards receiving a scholarship. If there is a formula to it, I would be more than willing to share.
All I want to say is to keep doing what you feel is important and valuable. There is no need to compromise your actions with the expectations of others or a system that may seem unalterable. Although it may seem cliché, it is absolutely important to not fear changes, especially changes that you identify as essential and beneficial. Do what you want to do and the scholarship will be yours.
Louise: I think my commitment to community service in the form of being a leader at school and volunteering for non-profit organizations, such as the Archdiocesan Campus Ministry, helped me obtain the scholarship.
Any advice for people who would like to study university abroad and hopefully land a scholarship?
Brian: My advice will always be the same: do what you feel is important to you. It is highly likely that people will tell you to do this and to do that, but in the end of the day, do they matter to you? Do what matters. For me, the reason for studying abroad is to interact and engage with people who hold greater knowledge in fields that interest me most. Searching and creating the most optimal environment for your passion will be the greatest asset in your life.
Louise: Motivation comes from within so work hard (harder!). Do not limit yourself and do not over plan everything. It is important to know your priorities and be organized in obtaining them. Do things one step at a time!
A quote that you always go by or a quote that inspires you?
Brian: Just do it.
Louise: Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).