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From South Africa to Harvard University: A Cambridge student’s journey to one of the best universities in the world

Cambridge Learners  Higher education  Sub-Saharan Africa   AlumniCambridge LearnersHarvard

“Universities receive thousands of applications and having strong Cambridge qualifications helped me stand out from the crowd”

Student name: Nureldin

School: Durban High School, South Africa

Studied: Cambridge International A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Further Mathematics and Physics, as well as a Cambridge IGCSE in German

University: Currently finished his Cambridge qualifications and waiting to start his studies at Harvard University in August 2023

Future plans: Artificial Intelligence and Space Colonisation

Nureldin studied his Cambridge International qualifications at Durban High School in South Africa. He has recently been accepted into Harvard University in the US. While he waits to start his university studies, Nureldin tells us what he liked about his school in South Africa, how his Cambridge International qualifications helped him get a place at one the top universities in the world, and what the future looks like for him.

What do you like about your school?

There are several things that I loved about my time at Durban High School (DHS). DHS has a strong sense of community, a diverse student body, and a welcoming environment that fosters a sense of belonging. The school encourages students to be inclusive and respectful to one another, creating a supportive atmosphere that makes everyone feel valued.

I appreciate the school’s academic excellence and its rigorous curriculum that challenges students to reach their full potential. The teachers are knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate about their subjects, and they are always available to offer extra support and guidance when needed. I felt well-prepared for tertiary education and the challenges that lay ahead.

My experience at Durban High School was enriching, inspiring, and enjoyable. The school’s sense of community, academic excellence, sporting tradition, and history all contributed to my positive experience as a student. I am grateful for the opportunities and experiences that DHS provided me, and I am proud to be a part of the school’s rich legacy.

Congratulations on being accepted at Harvard! What made you want to pursue your studies in another country?

Firstly, I am constantly inspired by the level of academic excellence and intellectual rigour at Harvard. The university attracts some of the brightest students and faculty from around the world and has a dynamic and diverse community of scholars. I feel fortunate for the opportunity to learn from a world-class faculty who are experts in their respective fields. The opportunities for research and independent study are also unparalleled, and they will allow me to explore my interests and deepen my understanding of the subjects that I am passionate about.

Beyond the academic programmes, I also appreciate the vibrant campus life and the rich cultural experiences available at Harvard. The university is home to numerous clubs and organisations, each with its unique mission and focus. Students can connect with like-minded peers and pursue their passions outside of the classroom. The campus is also steeped in history and tradition, from the iconic architecture of the buildings to the historic events that have taken place there.

One of my main motivations for pursuing my studies in another country is that I want to experience new cultures and meet new people. Studying in a foreign country will expose me to new perspectives, ways of life, and ideas that can expand my worldview and help me to develop a greater appreciation for academic and cultural diversity.

In terms of the United States as a whole, I appreciate the diversity and welcoming spirit of the country. The US is home to people from all backgrounds, and I will have the opportunity to meet individuals from different cultures and regions of the world, each with their unique perspectives and stories. The country is also known for its entrepreneurial spirit and innovative technologies, providing a dynamic and exciting environment for those seeking to make an impact in their respective fields.

I am also drawn to the natural beauty of the United States. From the towering mountains to the stunning coastlines, the country is home to some of the most breath-taking landscapes in the world. The diverse and dynamic cities of the US also offer their unique cultural and artistic scenes, providing endless opportunities for exploration and enrichment.

Overall, I feel incredibly grateful to be starting as a student at Harvard University and to have the opportunity to experience the richness and cultural diversity of the United States.

How important were your Cambridge qualifications to your university application?

As a student who has applied to universities, I can attest to the importance of Cambridge qualifications in my application. Cambridge qualifications are highly regarded by universities around the world, and they are often considered a strong indicator of a student’s academic abilities and potential for success at the university level.

As an international student, my Cambridge qualifications were one of the primary ways in which I could demonstrate my academic abilities and potential to universities. They set me apart from other applicants. Universities receive thousands of applications each year and having strong Cambridge qualifications was a way for me to demonstrate my commitment to academic excellence and to stand out from the crowd.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have completed the Cambridge programme, and I am confident that it has prepared me well for success in my future academic and professional pursuits.

How do you think your Cambridge qualification will help you at university?

My Cambridge International qualifications provided me with a solid foundation for my university studies. The rigorous academic programme helped me to develop key skills such as critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and effective communication, which are essential for success at the university level. The programme also exposed me to a range of subjects, allowing me to explore my interests and develop a broad base of knowledge that would serve me well in my future studies.

Have you thought about what you would like to do as a career after Harvard?

I am interested in lots of stuff right now, from biomedical engineering, AI, and quantum physics to acting and literature. So, while I am unsure of what I will specialise in, for now, I will spread my brush on the canvas and see where the paint dries thickest!

Are you a Cambridge International alumni with a story to share? We would love to hear from you. Please get in touch with us on outlook@cambridgeinternational.org

Our Cambridge qualifications are accepted and valued by leading universities around the world. In the US, over 850 universities accept Cambridge International AS & A Levels, including all Ivy League and Ivy Plus universities.  In the UK, all universities accept Cambridge qualifications.

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