Sabina Saktaganova Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
Selimzhan is a freshman at Harvard, who got a full ride scholarship. His funding covers his tuition, accommodation, food and even more. In actuality, he spends 0$ on his education.
In this interview he shares his experience and how he achieved his goal.
- Have you always dreamt about going to Harvard?
I have dreamt about it since eighth grade. My friend had gone to Harvard on an excursion and brought me a card with a view of the university. I hang it above my table and have been looking at it from that moment on.
After that in 10th and 11th grade, I gave up this idea because I thought: “It is not realistic” and began to search for down-to-earth alternatives.
However, in 12th grade I realized: “Why not?” and applied to Harvard.
- What are you going to study at university?
In Harvard, you can choose the profession when you are a sophomore. I am thinking about something related to biology, but I am not sure yet.
Although, I remember that I really wanted to be a detective in sixth grade.
I watched a TV show called “Elementary” about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (he is a woman there) and I liked how she used her medical background in order to help Sherlock.
After that I came up with the idea: “Why don’t I become a detective with a medical background?” Since then, biology and medicine have been interesting to me.
- To which universities did you apply?
I applied to five universities: MIT, Rice, Duke, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) and Harvard. I was accepted to NYUAD and Harvard. I got a full ride scholarship to both of them.
- What should a person do if everyone doesn’t believe in him/her?
Fortunately, I have never been in a similar situation. My encirclement was always supportive. However, as cliche as it sounds: “Believe in yourself no matter what”.
- What is the most crucial thing, in your opinion, to be accepted to a top Amerian university?
I think that it is really important for all components of your application to tell something about you and show you as a person.
For instance, if you study anthropology, read books about physics, do an arts project and write an essay about something else, then the Admissions Board will not understand who you are and what you are interested in. The main thing is to be yourself and show your real interests.
- What was the most interesting, funny or awkward question during the interview?
In the interview with Harvard we talked about in which sphere I wanted to work: Academia or Industry.
My interview was with a professor, so he works in Academia. However, I prefer Industry because I like using my knowledge more, so I needed to express myself in the way that nobody gets offended.
- What advice would you give to teenagers, who are going to apply to universities in 1, 2 or even 3 years?
I advise you to start the preparations earlier, not when you are a senior, and layering one task over another. The earlier, the better.