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School: Macleans College, Auckland, New Zealand
Studied: Cambridge International A Levels in Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, English Literature and Geography
Went on to: Study economics, human biology and public policy at Stanford University, USA
Before leaving New Zealand to join Stanford University in the US – an impressive achievement in itself – Cambridge International student Yang Fan Yun had received a ‘Top in the World’ award for Cambridge International A Level Geography and the 2019 Prime Minister’s Award, the top academic prize in New Zealand, in recognition of his glowing school career and academic record at Macleans College in Auckland.
Yang chose to study at Macleans College specifically because it offered Cambridge International programmes which he started in Year 10, a year earlier than many of his peers. Yang wanted the flexibility to study the subjects more broadly and in greater depth.
Because Cambridge International qualifications are internationally recognised and valued, I think it made for an easy comparison between other international applicants and myself for these schools.
Yang liked the linear approach of Cambridge exams, which means assessment takes place at the end of the course. ‘Because your marks come mainly at the end of the year, you can spend your year learning with a more flexible approach rather than frequent testing and assessments,’ he said.
‘I wanted that sort of learning style as it provided a more consistent and cohesive approach.’
Yang, who applied to (and was accepted by) a number of prestigious institutions before taking up his place at Stanford, said the international aspect of Cambridge programmes also supported his university ambitions.
He said: ‘Because Cambridge International qualifications are internationally recognised and valued, I think it made for an easy comparison between other international applicants and myself for these schools.’
Yang joined Stanford in September 2019 to follow a degree course focused on economics, human biology and public policy, subjects carefully chosen to support a longer term ambition to develop policies able to deliver equal access to affordable healthcare.
‘It (Stanford) offers the sort of liberal arts education that lets you explore different subjects, and I want to pursue my interest in biology, chemistry, maths, economics and engineering,’ he said.
‘Stanford's location in Silicon Valley places it at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship, and I very much look up to people like Bill and Melinda Gates, who with the Gates Foundation have found a way to use their money to benefit society.
‘Wanting to help people live better lives comes into my desire to make medicine more affordable. My mum and my grandfather have always encouraged me to be a good person and to give back to society. It’s a mix of my love for economics, biology and the life sciences - knowing how to make things cost-effective and being at the cutting edge of medical research. That’s what I want to do.’
He added: ‘Life at Stanford is pretty incredible - the experience of living and learning with diverse yet equally talented peers is incredibly immersive, and the opportunities are truly infinite,’ he said.
‘I find myself really busy every day, not just studying but also interacting with my peers and involving myself in the activities that I love. Top US universities also tend to be incredibly generous in supporting you financially if your family may struggle to pay for costs, so I would strongly encourage anyone interested to go for it!’
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