Meet Cassandra Hsiao, The Girl Who Got Accepted Into All 8 Ivy League Colleges In The US
A brilliant teenager has made headlines in the US for her incredible accomplishment of being accepted into all the Ivy League schools there
Cassandra Hsiao was only five when she left Malaysia to emigrate to the US with her family
Today, the 17-year-old is a "first-generation immigrant" who has accomplished the rare feat of being accepted into not one, but all eight Ivy League schools!
Her parents - her mother was born in Malaysia while her father was born in Taiwan - have been extremely supportive and proud of her latest achievement.
"They believed in me and encouraged me to follow my passions along with my teachers, my friends, mentors, life mentors, industry mentors – these are the people who I really owe a lot to," Cassandra told US portal The Tab.
"God opened a lot of doors for me and put these people in my life who were able to see something in me and nourish me," she said.
Her incredible feat means that she has the luxury of choosing between the best of the best
The offers just kept coming and eventually, Cassandra received news that she got accepted into Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.
These eight universities are often grouped under the label 'Ivy League' and are recognised as some of the most prestigious and best institutions for education not just in the US, but around the world.
"I opened them one after another, and they all were saying, 'Congratulations! Congratulations!' And I know that is something special," she told NBC4.
She is actually spoilt for choice as she has also received offers from other top universities like Stanford University, John Hopkins University, University of Southern California, Northwestern University, and New York University to name a few.
But how did she do it? It was all because of the application essays she wrote.
In an exclusive interview with The Tab, Cassandra revealed that there is one thing in common that she wrote about in her applications to study at these top universities.
She said that the application essays tell her personal story about her experiences as someone who grew up in a house of immigrants and how she interacted with the English language.
"Words that don’t translate will seep into our own – the way I talk at home is very different from the way I talk outside of home. Sometimes when I was growing up people laughed at me for things I said that sounded completely normal to me but were not to them," she explained.
Here's what she wrote in her essay:
"In our house, English is not English. Not in the phonetic sense, like short a is for apple, but rather in the pronunciation – in our house, snake is snack. Words do not roll off our tongues correctly – yet I, who was pulled out of class to meet with language specialists, and my mother from Malaysia, who pronounces film as flim, understand each other perfectly.
In our house, there is no difference between cast and cash, which was why at a church retreat, people made fun of me for "cashing out demons." I did not realize the glaring difference between the two Englishes until my teacher corrected my pronunciations of hammock, ladle, and siphon. Classmates laughed because I pronounce accept as except, success as sussess."
The full essay is available in full on The Tab's website.
Despite her initial shortcomings, Cassandra is a real overachiever and she definitely knows what it means to be a standout
Growing up in Walnut, Los Angeles, Cassandra is a decorated student at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), who led the school’s magazine as editor-in-chief and became one of two student body presidents.
As a student journalist, film critic, and playwright, Cassandra's academic performance is equally impressive with a 4.67 GPA and an excellent 1540 SAT score.
She's a star reporter, having conducted dozens of interviews with popular Hollywood celebrities, all of which can be found on her YouTube channel.
You could have guessed how outgoing she is as she had no second thoughts when she shot a question by rapping in front of the award-winning actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda during a news conference for Disney's 'Moana'.
Now, Cassandra is facing a dilemma (but it's a good one): Which university should she go to?
It's definitely a difficult decision as she needs to choose where she wants to spend her college years at.
According to ABC7, Cassandra is considering storytelling arts for her major.
Meanwhile, OCSA's director of creative writing, Josh Wood, only had good things to say about Cassandra.
"She's multi-faceted. She's such a go-getter and makes opportunities for herself," he was quoted as saying by NBC4.