• Nora Sun

Tags: UC Berkeley

Institution: University of California Berkeley

Study: Major in public health

High School Experience

My school experience had more lows than highs. I came from an inclusive, well staffed charter school to a school that seemed to neglect academic programs and was far from diverse. I definitely loved the environment in my school’s Academic Decathlon and pre-calc and calculus classes. Those teachers went above and beyond in being excellent teachers and creating an inclusive environment. However, I went to a predominantly white agriculture school and this meant I faced and witnessed a lot of prejudice.

Course choices

My interests were research and health! I couldn’t take courses based off of these because of how small our school was.


I took AP Calculus AB, Biology, Language, Literature, US History, Art History, Environmental Science. I passed every exam (that I know of) with 4s and 5s.


4.5 unweighted, 4.0 weighted

Standardized Testing

SAT: 1400


I did California Scholarship Federation all four years, was Vice President and then president of our school’s environment club after three years of involvement, treasurer and co-president of my school’s inclusive club during my two years of involvement, did Academic Decathlon all four years, and ASB for one year.


One of my recommendations was my Academic Decathlon coach who saw me 6 days a week for the entire school year for four years. The other was a teacher I TAed for and was in his class and was also my neighbor.


My theme was my interest in public health and education. I want to be a public health professor, so I made it very apparent that I was dedicated to the field and academia.


I had won nationals for Academic Decathlon which I believe set me apart. I also conducted an observational study at my school regarding mental health in the classroom. My essays showed my dedication to my desired field and how I had already begun to contribute to it. The school I will be attending is a university renowned for its research, and I think that appealed to them.


Work hard and follow your passion. Colleges that allow for holistic reviews will recognize your passion and admire it. Knowing who you are, what you want to do, and having done something regarding your passion will make you stand out as an applicant.


I am white and Southeast Asian, so I don’t really know if that affected it all that much. UC Berkeley, the university I will be attending, does have a Cambodian student association as well as Khmer classes, so I know they do a lot of outreach for my community. Southeast Asians are often lumped in with East Asians, but our experiences are simply not comparable. We have far higher poverty rates, high school dropout rates, and incarceration rates than East Asians.


The first time I visited I had just turned 12 and I felt so at home. As the years passed, I realized that it was a phenomenal university, affordable, close to home, and diverse. I continued to visit the campus and knew that it was the place I wanted to attend. It also helped that I got a scholarship.


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