Dubai: A Dubai-based girl is faced with a problem of plenty after she received acceptance letters from 16 top universities in the UK and US, including five Ivy League schools.
Alizeh Yahya, a Pakistani Year 13 student at Dubai College, who is looking at a potential career in public policy, law and politics, told Gulf News, she is overwhelmed by the response.
Yahya, who secured 13 A stars in the UK’s General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), topping two subjects globally in 2017, was also honoured by the UAE Ministry of Education last year for standing first in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“I always wanted to get into a top university. But I never expected I would be in a situation like this,” she said.
Yahya, who has two weeks to make up her mind on which university she will pick, said, “I have received acceptance letters from Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Dartmouth, Cornell (Ivy League schools), Stanford, Berkeley, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Barnard College of Columbia and UCLA in the US and Cambridge, London School of Economics, Kings College, Durham and UCL in the UK.”
The admissions officers of two universities even sent handwritten messages with the acceptance letters. One of them said the college was impressed by how thoughtfully Yahya had dealt with themes like “identity, subjectivity and collective memory”.
“Your intellect rang out clearly as you penned your thoughts … Quite simply, you made my job easy,” he wrote.
Yahya said she was thankful for her education in the UAE, where she has studied since Year 1.
“I have worked hard throughout my school life and being in Dubai has helped as it is a very international place with people from so many nationalities.”
She said she was especially grateful to her parents and schooling for the grounding she received.
Her mum Tayabba Ahmad said, “Schools here are very good at identifying talent. The primary school where she studied (Jebel Ali Primary School) included her in the Gifted and Talented Programme. Dubai College, which she joined in Year 7, also gave her the necessary push. Even as a child, she read a lot. So we ensured she always had access to a lot of books. But above all, she is a very humble girl. And that makes us immensely proud.”
Record year for Dubai College
Dubai College Headmaster Michael Lambert said, “Alizeh is a staggeringly talented girl and has done us proud. In fact, she tops 19 of our US applicants who have been accepted in the top one per cent universities this year. Twenty two of our students received UK medical school offers, out of whom seven hold two offers each and one holds three. Seven students received acceptances from Oxford and Cambridge, 14 from Imperial College London, 11 from London School of Economics and 26 from UCL. This has been a record year for us.”
Lambert said while the students worked very hard, the school’s specially designed preparatory programme also helped. “Seven years ago, we introduced the Top UP or University Preparation programme to prepare our students. We also have an extensive alumni network called Graduway which helps connect our students with over 1,500 alumni all over the world through a private social media platform.”