• Nora Sun

Tags: Duke

Institution: Duke University

Study: Double-majoring in global health and political science, potential minor in public policy

High School Experience

When I went into high school, I thought I wanted to study biochemistry. Then, the summer between 10th and 11th grade, I did an internship at UMich in a biomedical engineering lab. So, when I chose my IB classes for my last two years of high school (my school does the full IB curriculum), I chose higher level math, biology and chemistry, as well as standard level English, German and economics. I ended up really loving economics and wishing I had set my classes up for a political career.

Course choices

I really thought I wanted to do something related to biochemistry. I chose everything STEM related. I even started a STEM club, participated in a medical reading group, and tutored younger students in math.


My school did the MYP (a pre-IB program) for ninth and tenth grade. Then, in 11th, we started the full IB curriculum. As I mentioned before, I took higher level math, chemistry and biology, as well as standard level English, German and economics. I did my extended essay in chemistry, where I looked at how the length of the carbon chain in an alcohol affects the product yield of biodiesel from the transesterification process. Then, we also have the other core components of the IB, which include theory of knowledge and CAS (extracurriculars).


I was in the IB program, so my school doesn’t have weighted or unweighted GPAs. But, I was predicted 44 out of 45 points in the end (meaning five 7s, one 6 and all three core points).

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1460

ACT: 34


I have been doing musical theatre since I was 7. I participated in a total of about 30 productions during my life (8 of which were professional). I took singing lessons all four years of high school, as well as participated in choir all four years of high school. Furthermore, I’m quite challenged when it comes to sports, but I played for my school’s varsity badminton team for all four years of high school. I went to the Germany-wide tournament twice (we didn’t win anything significant). Then, I was part of Amnesty International, and I led it during my last year of high school. This is what made me more interested in studying politics. Otherwise, I did a lot of STEM-related activities. I founded and led the STEM club in my last two years of high school. I participated in medical reading group from 10th-12th grade, and I co-led it in 12th grade. Plus, I tutored many different kids in math throughout my last three years of high school.


I had a very close relationship with my English teacher. She wrote me one rec. Then, my chemistry teacher, who was also my extended essay advisor wrote me a rec. I think those were strong suits in my application.


In my main common app essay, I wrote about moving to Germany when I was twelve, traveling a lot and how my eyes opened up to the hardships people face in the developing world. Then, I wrote about how that prompted me to join Amnesty International, as well as what I implemented when I became the leader, which was a monthly petition signing day. This involved picking a monthly cause and going around on the last Friday of the month and urging students to sign a related petition. The highest number of signatures we got on one of these days was about 400.


I think that my biggest selling point was my life experiences. I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in three different countries. I speak German very well, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel and experience the world.



My mom also went to Duke as an undergraduate. She does the alumni interviews every year (she wasn’t allowed to during the year I applied though). But, she was able to prep me very well. Also, I think that my ‘why Duke’ essay was very strong because my mom is my biggest role-model, and I wrote about how Duke helped her achieve a career in helping people, so I believe it would help me do the same.


I’ve always loved the work hard, play hard mindset that Duke students have. I also really love how easy it is to double-major. But, the honest truth is that I wanted to go to a school with amazing academics. My dad went to Harvard, and he never had great things to say. He almost seemed resentful about his time there and the ivies in general. So, I thought that Duke would be a much better fit than one of the ivies for my personality.


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