Daughter of immigrants with medical ambitions

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  • Name: Song Hye-kyo
  • Schools accepted to: Harvard, Williams, Pomona, Tufts
  • Hometown: Saugus, Mass.
  • Occupation of Parents: Owners of a Korean restaurant

Background: “My parents are from Korea. My parents came here to work, looking for a better life and both my parents have worked really hard. My father arrived in America as a 12-year-old with his parents and three siblings. In 1978, South Korea was a poor country, my grandparents were looking for better opportunities and education for their children. After the family settled in California, my grandmother worked as a seamstress; grandfather had jobs as a dishwasher and janitor. My father delivered newspapers, helped his father with cleaning work after school, and got his first job at McDonald’s at age 16.”

How I did it: “I’ve always had an interest in medicine, so junior year, I started interning at Boston Children’s Hospital. My boss takes care of different culture aspects of the hospital. Being from Korea, knowing people who have had to get a translator at the hospital, that invoked a passion in me to bridge cultural gaps and be able to provide the best care to people regardless of what language you speak and your cultural aspects. It melded both my passions of hospitals and cultures together. I think this stuck out on my application.

I’ve always done sports. I went out for the track and soccer team. With the help of my coach, I rose to leadership quickly. I was track captain my sophomore year. It was weird to lead the seniors on my team.

I’ve also had a love for theater and music. I sing for my church choir. I’ve been involved with my church group.

Senior year, our school was doing ‘The Jungle Book’ as a winter play, and I got the part of Mowgli. We went to a theater competition and moved onto semifinals. I won acting awards.

I’ve also been Vice President of my class all four years.”

Test scores and grades: “All throughout high school, I was a straight A student, until pre-calc came along junior year. I got my first B. I got over it. I decided to take AP calc anyway.

I got a 2100 on my SAT. They’re really good scores, but Harvard level are mostly perfect scores.”

What pushed me: “What set me apart is that because my parents were immigrants and had to be working so often that I had to be on my own. It made me independent. I had to motivate myself, and that’s what really drove me. I also had amazing teachers who saw my potential early.

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