Derek Lee and his mentor, Peter Davos with the acceptance letters. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Mexican student of an Abu Dhabi school has been accepted in over a dozen elite US universities, including Ivy League institutions, and has won full scholarships, an education consultant said.

Derek Lee, 18, the head boy of British School in Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi, has been accepted in 17 elite universities such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Browns. Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, Princeton among others. He received full merit scholarships from Boston University and Fordham University for undergraduate studies, winning an aggregate scholarship amount of $705,000 (Dh2.53 million approximately). He has decided to study economics at Harvard University.

Son of a pilot, Lee, who will be the first in his family to go to university, described in his personal essay how the UAE inspired him to dream big.

He wrote: “The last four years have been magical; I cannot bring myself to describe them in any other way. I have learnt how to read and write Arabic, I discovered fesenjan [Persian recipe] and the joys of Persian cuisine, and I realised that the ethno-religious conflicts that define the region are not insurmountable. I have chased every opportunity that is within my grasp: experiences such as attending public lectures at NYU Abu Dhabi by celebrated scholars and pursuing internships at an embassy and with one of the city’s top law firms forced me to face the question: why were my own dreams so ordinary when it was within my reach to strive for the extraordinary? I spent several evenings pondering the issue on the rooftop, sitting on the edge with my legs dangling in the air and, eventually, I decided to be bold — bold like Abu Dhabi, a city that has built itself up from the Arabian Desert in less than 40 years and whose thousands of lights I could see from my sanctuary in the roof.”

Syrian heads for Boston University

Another expatriate student, Mohammad Surour, a Syrian from Al Ain, is the only international student to be accepted at Boston University on merit scholarship for an accelerated dental programme.

Surour, 18, has received a total of $382,000 (approximately Dh1.4 million) in merit scholarships.

Surour, a non-native English speaker who was brought up in Al Ain, was initially inclined to go to Germany and changed his mind very late. He developed his love for dentistry watching his father, who is a dentist in the UAE. He has a passion for helping people smile and playing a role in making people’s lives better through orthodontics and dentistry.

Peter Davos from Hale Education who groomed both the students for admissions said: “Although both students are very intelligent, have high test scores and are natural leaders, they are extremely grounded, affable, and humble, and that really stands out about them.”