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University: Stanford University, USA
Degree: Bachelor’s in Computer Science, Master’s in Management Science and Engineering
School: Macleans College, Auckland, New Zealand
Cambridge IGCSEs in Mathematics, Combined Science, English Literature
Cambridge International A Levels in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English Literature, Geography
Take us back to your school days in New Zealand - why did you attend Macleans College?
I chose Macleans College specifically because it offered Cambridge International programmes. I wanted the flexibility to study subjects more broadly and in greater depth, and I also liked the linear approach of Cambridge exams. With assessment taking place at the end of the course, you can spend the academic year learning rather than preparing for more frequent assessments.
In 2018, I was fortunate to have been awarded ‘Top of the World’ for my Cambridge International A Level in Geography. I was also awarded the New Zealand ‘Prime Minister’s Award’ being the single highest achieving student in New Zealand in the 2018 graduating cohort.
It was also important that Cambridge International qualifications had worldwide recognition, especially when I was applying to university, as this made it easier for universities to compare my academic credentials with other applicants from around the world.
You were accepted by Stanford University in the USA - what did you study?
When I started at Stanford, I planned to major in a combination of economics, human biology and public policy. At that time, my plan was to eventually work either in consulting or for an NGO, helping to use technology to deliver equal access to affordable healthcare. In the end, however, I pursued a relatively different set of subjects and finally graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master's in Management Science and Engineering.
This ability to explore different academic interests is one reason why I decided to enrol as a liberal arts student in the US, and at Stanford in particular. For example, even though I had never written a line of computer code, the Computer Science Department was incredibly friendly to beginners.
As a student I also explored a number of additional subjects, including psychology, philosophy, Chinese literature, and fiction writing, all of which helped enrich my studies and worldview.
Did your Cambridge qualifications earn you any course credit when you applied?
Yes - I gained course credit for a number of my Cambridge International A Levels and this allowed me to skip several introductory classes in maths and science.
Tell us more about your time at Stanford, and about living and studying in America?
One of the main highlights of being a Stanford student is that all undergraduates live on-campus for the four years of their degree course. This means that you study, eat, and live in extremely close proximity to thousands of other students — all of whom are intelligent, kind, and interesting people. I've made countless close friends at Stanford, and I genuinely believe these will be lifelong friendships.
There have also been many academic highlights, including classes taught by Paul Milgrom (the 2020 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics) and Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft).
Did you also take part in extra-curricular activities?
I have a passion for hiking and the outdoors which started during high school, and I continued this at Stanford as well as picking up the new activity of bouldering. Stanford also offers dozens of one-unit pass-fail classes where you can learn new skills, and I was fortunate to experience tennis, golf, and social dance. These courses really enhanced my life as a student - though I'm still a terrible dancer!
As you progressed through your degree course did you continue to benefit from the skills you gained at school as a Cambridge student?
I believe that the knowledge and study skills I gained during my Cambridge studies were instrumental to my degree success, and in a number of ways.
The academic rigour of Cambridge International A Levels gave me an extremely strong foundation, and (as noted above) earned me course credit when I started university. Perhaps more importantly, however, my Cambridge studies also taught me to think and learn in a highly developed way.
For example, although I came to Stanford with no knowledge or experience in computer science, I was fortunate enough to graduate as the Henry Ford II Scholar for having the single highest GPA in the Computer Science department. I also received the Frederick Emmons Terman Engineering Award and was elected to both the Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi honour societies. I strongly believe these achievements were largely due to the study and critical thinking skills I developed while studying for my Cambridge qualifications.
You recently graduated - what are your future plans?
I am joining Uber, in San Francisco, as an Associate Product Manager but longer term, I look forward to founding my own startup. My aim is to leverage technology to help people around the world unlock economic opportunities.
Would you recommend Cambridge qualifications to other students considering studying at university?
Absolutely! Studying for my Cambridge qualifications was a unique and lasting experience - not just for acquiring knowledge but also about discovering a passion and developing a genuine love for the subjects I studied. This made my learning journey incredibly meaningful and memorable and was a truly transformative experience, allowing me to grow academically and cultivate a lifelong joy for learning.
Tell your story - We’d love to hear about your university journey. Please complete the form and we’ll be in touch.