By HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic AFP
TWO students — Mohamed Aqil Azmi from Shah Alam, Selangor and Zad Chin Qi Qi from Ipoh, Perak — are now the pride of the nation as they have been accepted to Harvard College, the undergraduate school of Harvard University in Massachusetts, US.
The two were selected from a total of 40,248 applicants who applied to be part of Class 2024.
Mohamed Aqil and Chin are now part of only 1,980 students who are successfully admitted to the school that records an admission rate of only 4.9%.
Of the students who have been accepted, only a mere 10.8% are international students. The last time a Malaysian student was admitted to Harvard College was in 2017.
TMC Life Sciences Bhd group CEO and Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara CEO Wan Nadiah Wan Mohd Abdullah Yaakob said Mohamed Aqil and Chin were chosen as they impressed her and fellow alumni interviewer Khazanah Nasional Bhd research director Nick Khaw, with their intellectual curiosity, maturity, drive and desire to make an impact in society.
“We believe that not only will they benefit tremendously from the opportunities available to them at Harvard, they will also be significant contributors to the Harvard community.
“We truly believe that our Malaysian students are inspiring individuals who will go on to contribute great things to the world,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Wan Nadiah said the duo give great hope for the future and they are delighted that Harvard has allowed Mohamed Aqil and Chin to gain experiences from a wider world, as well as showcasing Malaysian talent abroad.
“We strongly encourage Malaysian students to follow in their footsteps and apply to Harvard College.
We want to see more and more Malaysian undergraduate students represented at Harvard,” she said.
Khaw said the two students are not just brilliant, but also have an enormous potential to impact the world they are in.
“We wish them the heartiest congratulations and we hope their journey at Harvard will be a valuable experience in shaping them to be the great people we know they can be and to be inspirations for other young Malaysians,” he said.
The two students will begin their undergraduate studies once Harvard reopens for the new academic year.
Currently, Mohamed Aqil and Chin are pursuing A-Levels studies at Kolej Yayasan UEM in Banting, Selangor and are recipients of scholarships from Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and Yayasan Khazanah respectively.
While their studies are fully sponsored by PNB and Yayasan Khazanah, this does not mean that students without financial means are unable to attend.
“Harvard University has the largest endowment fund of any university in the world and it has always made it its mission to ensure every student who successfully gains admission is able to pursue their studies regardless of financial status,” added Wan Nadiah.
According to a statement by the Harvard Club of Malaysia, based on projections by the university, more than half the class of 2024 will receive need-based grants, allow- ing families to pay an average of US$12,000 (RM52,144) annually.
Harvard will require no contribution from nearly 23% of the families, representing those with annual incomes below US$65,000.
The students in this group will also receive US$2,000 start-up grants to help with move-in costs and other expenses incurred in making the transition to college.
Both students were products of the national education system with Mohamed Aqil hailing from Sekolah Agama Menengah Tinggi Tengku Ampuan Jemaah, Shah Alam and Chin from SMJK Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh.
At Harvard, Mohamed Aqil plans to major in Mathematics and Philosophy. He is now working on compiling, translating and writing an exegesis of works by the 16th century Malay poet Hamzah Fansuri.
Meanwhile, Chin plans to major in Computer Science and Social Studies. She has been heavily involved in robotics and technology competitions, having invented a wide variety of gadgets from those that help with forest fire detection to ones that pick up trash.
Additionally, she has founded two non-profits, “BASE Scholarship” and Project BAWE (Beating Automation with Education). The latter seeks to teach children who live in urban poverty via one-to-one coaching based on mentors who are themselves students.