Now that you’ve met Carmen, here’s another core committee member of USAPPS 2013 – Charis Loke! As a fresh graduate, she’ll be around during our Klang Valley workshops to share her college experiences and look back on what has happened over the past 4 years. (Read her reflections studying in the US in this article of hers right here)
Are you ready? Let’s go and learn a little bit more about….Charis!
Hello, I’m Charis, and I attended Brown University, which is located in the smallest American state with the longest name. I applied Early Decision to Brown because its Open Curriculum meant that I would only be taking
classes I chose to take, alongside people who were equally excited about the class – much better for learning! It’s also located next to Rhode Island School of Design; students from both schools can take classes at either institution. So while I completed a biochemistry concentration, I spent a significant amount of time exploring and working with visuals (illustration, animation, design) and storytelling (literature, history, teaching).
What did you do in high school?
At SMK King George V in Seremban, I wrote stories, made websites, and was involved with the Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development initiative, where I met two MIT students at a robotics workshop and was thoroughly impressed by what US college students seemed to be doing and how well-rounded they were.
Tell us about your favourite college class?
I’ve enjoyed so many classes for different reasons that it’s a disservice to pick one. Here’s a short list: medieval history seminar with six students and nine professors, where I learnt to read and write critically as a freshman;
science fiction and fantasy illustration at RISD where I met a professor I would later do an independent study with; four semesters of German language, opening up a new world of possibilities including a study trip to the country; two (demanding) semesters of computer animation, because I learnt various parts of the animation pipeline and am now able to make my own 3D animation; African dance class because of the emphasis on coming together as a community through performance as well as a physical style of learning rather than the theory-based one found in academia.
Tell us about your favourite college application essay?
It was my Common App essay – I’d spent months preparing mine, having seniors check it, and turning it into something I thought would sound good to admissions officers.
The night before it was due, I threw it away.
It wasn’t me. I went to bed, started writing a new one at 11am, had my brother check it for typos at 11.50am, and submitted it a little after it was due at noon (don’t do this!). Because I didn’t have time to censor and edit myself, the new essay was more honest and raw, and, I think, better.
Best thing about your college?
Two things, the first being trust. It’s everywhere, right down to the educational philosophy of not having a core curriculum – students are trusted to be responsible and brave enough to choose the classes they think they need. It’s there when you can simply walk into a professor’s office as a freshman and ask if you can help with their research.
Perhaps most tellingly, it’s there when you say “I have an idea!” and the first response is “How can I help?”. And the second thing is the people – faculty, peers, staff, alumni. They really are a crucial part of any college, and at Brown they helped me grow tremendously in 4 years.
Did you submit an arts supplement/ sports etc.?
I submitted an arts supplement (files of my art, on a CD) and had my art teacher from one of my high schools write a short letter to go with it.