The Big Leagues

A Q&A with some wildcats that are going to top colleges in the nation.


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A photo of Harvard University

Bishoy Hanna


What made you decide to go to Duke University?

I always thought that biomedical engineering was an interesting major so when I decided that that was what I wanted to do. I was researching what schools had a good program for that so I came across Duke. I started researching more about Duke and I fell in love. I just knew it was a really good school and thought that if I could get into a school like that, I would feel proud of everything I’ve done in high school.

How was the application process?

That was a whole roller coaster. There were so many ups and downs. First there was a program that I applied to that was going to help me get into Duke. When I get rejected from that I lost all hope, but then all my friends, teachers and counselors encouraged me to apply to Duke straight up. So I worked as hard as I could; I made sure everything was perfect. It took a lot of late nights writing essays and editing essays, filling out the application, getting people to look over them. It was a really long process but it was all worth it in the end.

What was the hardest part of the whole process?

I would say that the hardest part was definitely the wait. Waiting to hear back from them. I was constantly looking back at my application, like could I have done something better, I reread the whole application and found 2 grammar mistakes so I got even more stressed about it. It was just terrible. The wait killed me. It felt like the closer I got to it, the longer it was taking to come.

What would you tell other people trying to apply to Duke?

I would tell them to definitely start the application early. I started mine too late. Too late to the point where I was stressing a lot. Get good ideas, because essays are where they see who you really are, and make sure you have good letters of recommendation from teachers who know you well.

Who was your biggest supporter through the whole process?

I would say my biggest supporter was one of my close friend Bunsri Patel. She was just there for me throughout the whole thing. She was the one who kept encouraging me to apply when I got denied from the program. She was constantly helping me with my essays, and short answers and constantly editing them and making them better. There’s literally no one else that supported me more than her.



Sebastian Aguirre


What made you apply to Stanford University?

Stanford has always been on my mind and past couple summers .I did research there so it was somewhere I know really well and I am familiar with.

How was the application process?

It is a really long process, the hardest part about it is trying to figure out what you will write your essay about. You have to be able to put yourself on a paper and that’s really hard to do, but at the end of the day it is all worth it.

What was the hardest part of the whole process?

Essays. In total, they took me 4 months to write, rewrite and edit them.

What would you tell other people trying to apply to Stanford?

It is a very tough process. Honestly I would advise them to come talk to me, I’m more than happy to tell them all about it. I couldn’t have done it without the help of people already there who talked to me about the process. The best advice I could give is, be yourself in the application. My essay was very much my personality on a piece of paper. And you just have to be okay with them not liking it because at the end of the day it is whether or not you’ll fit in the college.

Who was your biggest supporter through the whole process?

Definitely my mom. She would always talk to me about what her and my dad have been through to get me where I am. It is something I have always kept in mind being that they sacrificed something and I want to sacrifice the same thing trying to get somewhere.



Rebecca Lee


What made you apply to Harvard?

Most of my family went there. Harvard was my first visit. I went there for a debate tournament freshman year and I just loved it. Whenever I ask people what they like most about Harvard, they say the people and that made my apply. They have a strong liberal arts program so that as well. I’m thinking of studying behavioral economics or maybe biochemistry.

How was the application process?

The whole thing was really grueling, but Harvard, I just kind of applied and was like why not. Their application process compared to other schools was very short. I had everything prewritten for the short answers but the overall process was lots of drafting and writing.

What was the hardest part of the whole process?

Definitely the essays because it’s hard. You don’t know what they’re looking. You just have to present yourself the best way possible and to do that within 600 to 700 words is really hard. You just have to keep rewriting until you perfect it.

What would you tell other people trying to apply to Harvard?

Don’t get discouraged. It seems daunting but, I mean, shoot your shot right? You have to ask yourself why you’re applying because you need to know if it’s the best fit for you depending on the school’s values and other things as well.

Who was your biggest supporter through the whole process?

My biggest supporters were definitely friends and family and my counselor too. My parents though, sometimes when I would forget to eat dinner because I’m up late working on essays, they would always make me food. It was really sweet of them.