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AP Scholar Makes Smooth Transition to USC

Mindy Chen ’15 (United States) has completed an excellent freshman year at the University of Southern California, where she will pursue a degree in International Relations (Global Business) with a minor in Music Industry.

Mindy speaks English, Chinese, and French and took six Advanced Placement courses at TASIS: English Literature and Composition, English Language and Composition, Art History, US History, Calculus, and Statistics. She was granted the College Board’s highest honor—the AP Scholar with Distinction Award—for earning a perfect score of 5 on all but the Statistics exam. Mindy is particularly proud of her performance on the Calculus exam and believes her two years at TASIS helped her become a more balanced student.

“Prior to senior year, I had always been under the impression that I was strictly a humanities-oriented individual—English, History, and French came very easily to me, but I always struggled with math,” she said. “TASIS showed me that that perception of myself wasn't necessarily set in stone. Even though AP Calculus was one of the hardest classes (both academically and personally) I took during my TASIS career, I'm so glad I didn't give up. I learned that, through hard work and perseverance, I can tackle and overcome new challenges.”

“I am a traveler at heart, so being able to explore new destinations while focusing on topics I was actually studying brought life and vigor to the classroom.”

Mindy is off to a tremendous start at USC. She’s posted a 3.9 GPA, is a member of the Honor Society, and was recognized with an Academic Achievement Award. She credits her teachers at TASIS for helping her develop the tools and mindset she needed to be successful in college.

“I'm lucky to say that I got along with all of my teachers,” she said. “However, three in particular come to mind: Mr. Dibbert (AP US History), Mr. Matthew (AP English Literature and Composition), and Dr. Abisi (AP English Language and Composition). In addition to being phenomenal and inspirational teachers, all three played substantial roles in my TASIS support system. I knew I could count on them to advise me during whatever struggles I was going through. Their work ethic and passion for their fields leads me to strive to do what I love as a living, whatever that ends up being.”

Mindy, who was also accepted at George Washington University and Boston University, is grateful to College Counselors Greg and Carroll Birk for helping her find a perfect fit.

“The TASIS College Counseling Office took great care to get to know me on a personal level, not just as another statistic,” she said. “I am extremely grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Birk for helping me through the college application process, particularly in helping me realize what I was really looking for in a university. I know I for one was too focused on university rankings; at the end of the day, your experience is what you make of it, so if you embrace the opportunities that come your way, you will be happy regardless of where you end up going.”

In addition to excelling academically at TASIS, Mindy was a Dorm Proctor, co-founded and co-directed an A Cappella group with her close friend Marianna Barbieri ’15, received the Ambassador's Cup for Excellence in US History and the Cynthia Whisenant Award for Excellence in English Literature, and was nominated to speak during the Senior Banquet. She took full advantage of the travel opportunities afforded by a TASIS education and drew a great deal of inspiration from her varied excursions.

“I loved the Academic Travel program,” she said. “I am a traveler at heart, so being able to explore new destinations while focusing on topics I was actually studying brought life and vigor to the classroom. I fondly and vividly remember all my trips: Hungary with Habitat for Humanity, Berlin for art history, Salzburg for music, and Paris/Normandy for US history.”

While Mindy is thrilled to be at USC, she concedes that she does miss the tight-knit TASIS community. “TASIS is very much like an extended family—small enough that you can cultivate and maintain strong personal relationships, but large enough in that you don't feel confined and restricted,” she said. “USC has a huge undergraduate population, so that was initially quite daunting during my first semester. While large student bodies do have their advantages, I do sometimes find myself nostalgic for the friends and memories I made at TASIS.”

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