Not a straight-A student but got a Harvard offer, how did this WKU girl make it?

Recently, Zha Yiwen, a senior student from the Department of English at Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU), received an admission letter from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In the US news education rankings, Harvard Graduate School of Education has repeatedly ranked first in the world. Prior to this, Zha has already received the scholarship offer of Vanderbilt University, a member of New Ivies.

Harvard, how did she make it? In the interview, Zha Yiwen mentioned several times, “I am not one of those traditional straight-A students and even my GPA is not the best. The reasons for my acceptance to Harvard can be attributed to good TOEFL and GRE scores, and colorful experience of my college life. ”

GPA is not the only Criterion to Value Students’ Performance

Reflecting on the moment when she received the admission letter from Harvard, Zha spoke frankly,” when reading the text of the email, it was unbelievable to me. “”As I didn’t expect to be admitted, I was relatively calm. My previous target was Columbia University and I have already received a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt University.”

In fact, Harvard University was not on the list of Zha Yiwen’s applications at the beginning. Given that, quoted from her, “I’m not an absolute straight-A student”. “My GPA is only 3.3+ in my first year at WKU and then scrambles to 3.8+. This is not the best even in English Department. While Harvard University, being the oldest university in the US, has cultivated eight US Presidents, including Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama, and all among Harvard alumni, the professors, and researchers, 160 of them are Nobel laureates (university with the most Nobel prizewinners).

Why does she attract the attention from so many first-class universities even though she is not the best? Recently, Zha ‘s parents are bombard with questions on the secret to success.

Zha concluded herself, “I think this should be related to my rich college experiences, and good GRE and TOEFL scores, plus–strong recommendation letters written by the WKU professors.”

Taking a closer look at her university experiences, you will find that, like most WKU students, she also devotes to public welfare, participates in community service, volunteer projects, and translates documents for the university departments. She is the only freshman student who participated in the Wenzhou Youth Interpretation Competition and entered the semi-finals; as a sophomore, she participated in the National Interpreting Contest and won the second prize in Zhejiang Provincial Tournament, the third prize in the Eastern China. In her third year of university, she once again won the third prize in National Interpreting Contest – the Zhejiang Provincial Tournament.

Follow Your Passions, Never Give Up

In April 2019, the students of the English Department at WKU got a journal named “ECHO-ENG”. Zha Yiwen was one of the student founders. As the head of the student editorial board, with the joint efforts of the team, she also designed the logo, with the Chuitai Mountain as an element. Despite lacking of experience, the ECHO-ENG young people are fearless. They accomplished all the works, from writing proposals, soliciting manuscripts, reviewing, revising, and typesetting, until the final products are delivered to the students. This journal involves reading, speaking, and writing, and a total of 16 academic papers, which has been praised by the Dean of College of Liberal Arts of WKU. Through this practice, Zha not only gained a deeper and comprehensive understanding of the academic knowledge of English study, but also became familiar with the editing of journals and magazines, fulfilling her dream of being a writer.

Speaking of Zha Yiwen, her classmates said that she had a sense of tranquility. Mao Siqi, the team leader of this English journal mentioned, “She has a very cheerful personality and is serious in work and willing to discuss with others. She is also a ‘Doer’, who will take action quickly.” “Besides, she never gives up things she loves and is passionate about.

In the summer after her freshman year, Zha Yiwen signed up for AIESEC’s Sawasdee Thailand Project 24, and she went to a primary school in Suphan Buri, Thailand, teaching local children English. As she was the only Chinese in that school, she spoke English every day during that one and a half month. The school conditions were not ideal but she was not afraid of hardships. In the end, she had a lovely time with the local children and taught them some simple Chinese.

In daily life, Zha Yiwen, just like other girls of the same age, she loves to read novels, prefers horror movies and animation, and is crazy about drinking milk tea. She dubbed it “the light of my life, the calling of my deep desire”. Speaking of her positive nature, Zha is grateful for her parents’ education, which had a profound impact on her, especially her father, as she said. “He will be satisfied only if I could be happy. Although I have a strict mother, they respect almost all my decisions. It is their recognition that encourages me to be independent. ”

The Biggest Surprise from WKU–Courage

“Before I came to WKU, I also thought that Harvard and Columbia were something out of reach.” said Zha Yiwen. She always wants to be a WKUer back to high school. Although she failed in the initial Three in One Test interview, she was eventually admitted to WKU after the College Entrance Examination. She had made the right choice. At WKU, she did not only improve her English skills, but also opened her eyes toward outside world. The new platform gave her the courage and ability to move to a larger global stage.

In her junior year, Zha went to Kean USA for a semester study through a school exchange program. At the class of Creative Writing, Zha was the only Chinese in the class. At first, she was not confident in her spoken English. Until later, an American student in her class encouraged her, “Your spoken English is quite good, but written language is another thing. Your grammar and writing ability is even better than me.” Until then, She realized that in fact, after practicing in the American learning style which emphasizes expression and discussion, she had already opened the door toward more opportunities.

And all this has been verified in her English examination results. The TOEFL score is 120 points. Zha scored a high of 114 points, including 30 points for reading and listening, and 29 points for writing. And her GRE scored 326 points, which made it possible for her to apply for the best education college in the world.

Zha Yiwen said with a big smile,”At that time, I also took a three-day tour to Harvard in America. I did not expect that I would become a member of it soon.” When it comes to the future, this positive girl said she wanted be a teacher or an excellent translator or interpreter, and all these are reachable now.