• Nora Sun

Tags: Brown, first generation

Institution: Brown University

Study: Major in biomedical engineering and molecular biology

High School Experience

Being in an international high school was a new experience because till grade 10 I was in Bhutan my whole life. The two years was the most eye-opening journey that shaped what I wanted in life and a greater understanding of the world at large. I loved the people I met with and how everyone was part of the United World College mission. So definitely the community that I was part of was a highlight as everyone was chill with helping out and being honest. The teachers, activities, boarding and school facilities were all great as well. However I think as time passed, I realized the much of the community that I felt proud of was the boarding community. Apart from that for me personally there was this social line that separated boarders and day students. To top it off, being a scholar at times I did feel that students didn’t realize the privileges that they had and were taking all for granted. I’d expected that UWC would be the last place where there’s toxic individuals who are racist, misogynistic and homophobic. But I was wrong and I felt that raising my voice did not bring any change as these people had a way of masking their traits when in front of teachers. So seeing these individuals prosper was probably the most annoying thing.

Course choices

I generally love the sciences in particular bio chem. Thanks to the lab facilities as long as I ran down my ideas properly to my supervisors for assessments, I had the freedom to conduct experiments. For my extended essay, a 4000 word essay which is integral part of the IB diploma, I did it in biology on antibacterial effects of capsaicin. And that was really fun although I did have to remodel my experiment several times. During my first time, I remember grabbing capsaicin without a face mask or gloves. So much for a quick experiment, the rest of the evening ended with me rubbing yoghurt over my face. Such incidents marked or huge significance as they brought me a greater insight into doing practical research and what brought me to choose molecular biology and biomedical engineering.


I did the IB. For my higher levels, I took chemistry, biology and psychology . And as for my standard levels, I took English language and literature A, math and mandarin. I managed to secure 38 points out of 42 with 7’s for my HLs. 6 for math and English. And a 5 for mandarin which I regretted taking for my IB combination greatly.


IB: 38/42

Standardized Testing

SAT: ~1300s


As for my activities, I did water polo and DJ club for junior year. I participated in a dance show called Culturama showcasing international diversity through dance in both years of high school. I did service in special olympics badminton. In terms of leadership, I was part of the Initiative for peace in junior year where we learned the concepts for peace building and ran a conference for delegates. I did mine in Mae Sot, Thailand. In senior year, I joined the student council.


I requested my bio and chem teachers for recommendations with whom I had a really good relationship with. My biology teacher also was my extended essay supervisor so we often joked about the incident I mentioned above and he’s guided me so much outside the class as well. I remember he stayed behind after school just to teach me how to use the lab equipment because I had no idea. My chem teacher also happened to be the initiative for peace supervisor so I’d say he knew me properly also outside the classroom domains.


I think all my essays were generally a story of coming of age. Of how I discovered many different aspects of life. My personal essay was describing a specific moment in life when I got ordained as a monk and right after I was presented with the opportunity to study at UWCSEA. Generally I think my essays have a huge interconnection with the Buddhist faith and how my personal understanding of Buddhism has evolved.


I think apart from grades, being from UWC and extracurricular activities that I chose, it would be the fact that I am a minority and that too from Bhutan. I remember my uni advisor said one of the best assets that I had going for me was my passport as most universities look to advertise their campus diversity. So I think my nationality was one of the main things that made me a strong applicant and also because I applied early decision.


I think oftentimes students try to portray an ideal image of themselves and there’s nothing wrong with that but coming out in the rawest form that you are is a positive. Also live by values of honesty and appreciate the people around you. My close friends were the best thing that happened to me to shelter me and protect me during mental breakdowns. We had this shared understanding between ourselves which I feel blessed for.


I am a first generation student and although my financial standards are enough to live off in Bhutan, there’s no way my family can afford even a semester of college. So I received financial aid from both high school and college.


I was recommended to Brown by one of my seniors studying at Brown right now and he’s been able to bring so much change in his own community in Bhutan that grabbed my attention that this institution is for me. Brown has been my reach school and dream university. I chose brown not only because of its open curriculum but it’s emphasis on the community of learning from each other and helping one another. Also it has a small class size which allows for better teaching and interactions. The curriculum is rigorous as well and I think the discomfort of not knowing the answers is part of growth in learning.

#Brown #first_generation

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