Cynthia Xing From Keystone Academy to Brown University
Posted 05/17/2019 09:05AM
From Keystone Academy to Brown University
A Brave New World: From Tianjin to Beijing
Originally from Tianjin, Cynthia Xing is a young woman that is often times overlooked by her more flamboyant and extravagantly dressed peers. Her jet-black hair sits comfortably on her shoulders, with her circle rimmed shaped glasses perched perfectly on her nose. It is easy to assume that her demure disposition lends itself to a very sensitive soul. However, beneath the calm of Cynthia’s demeanor is a young woman fiercely determined to go after her goals, even if it means moving China to the United States.
Since Grade 10, Cynthia has been a student at Keystone. “I decided when I was in Grade 9 that I wanted to go abroad for college,” began Cynthia. “As a student in the Chinese public school system, I was on a path to take the gaokao exam. At that point, it didn’t make sense for me to continue with my high school education in a public school. I began to research private and international schools in Tianjin, but I found them too focused on the curriculum and not focused enough on the high school experience outside of academics. What attracted me to Keystone was the sense of community and the Chinese Thread. I was not ready to abandon my culture and heritage at an international school and when I came to visit Keystone, I fell in love with the campus.”
Since arriving at Keystone, Cynthia has found her voice in the classrooms and beyond, and her timid nature quickly melted away as she formed tight knit bonds wither her peers and teachers. The Residential Life Program allowed her to communicate with her teachers outside of regular classroom hours. Academic as well as other support structures were less intimidating and frightening, helping her cultivate even stronger bonds outside of the classroom with her teachers while she is away from home.
“The sense of community is something I really appreciate about Keystone, more than I initially thought I would in the beginning of my journey here,” said Cynthia. “In Chinese families it’s very rare that the child gets to make such a major life decision regarding education. My parents were so supportive when I was doing research on international and private schools and helped me conduct research about schools in Tianjin and Beijing. But the final decision was mine and I do not regret leaving Tianjin to attend school here on this beautiful campus.”
Understanding the World Through Math
Curious, modest, hardworking, and diligent are the words that best describe Cynthia according to her high school teachers. It is often advised that students choose the academic subject area that they are most talented in. This is a safe decision that ensures that one does not fail, however, at Keystone, students are advised to choose subjects that they are most curious about, and it is in those areas that they will truly excel.
For Cynthia, this passion lies in mathematics. Typically seen as mandatory, often times students twist their faces in anguish when trying to solve complex math riddles and equations. The road of mathematics is long, boring, and difficult, but for Cynthia, the beauty of math is that it is full of infinite possibilities, and she has cultivated her interest and passion for this subject throughout her years at Keystone.
In addition to assisting her peers in the subject of mathematics, Cynthia’s ability to understand abstract concepts and delve deeper into her passion for the subject is infectious and evident to everyone around her. As an academic student leader, Cynthia leads and serves her peers through mentoring in this subject area, often times taking the lead in her math classes to explain and break down a difficult mathematical problem or theory.
“In mathematics, she has the ability to understand abstract concepts easily and she is passionate about the subject. She understands why math theorems and concepts work rather than spending time memorizing the steps to solve problems,” Mrs. Barnes said. “Her Math internal assessment was especially impressive. She worked on her own research about the relationship between Fibonacci and Lucas numbers; and how these numbers can be represented using diagrams instead of formulas. To be honest, it was even difficult for me to understand some parts of her research and so I ended up asking Cynthia for help. She is now confident talking about mathematics in front of others. She often asks for my permission to use the board and address a problem with the entire class. I have rarely seen a student’s confidence in math match such a high skill level as Cynthia’s clearly does.”
As a force to be reckoned with in the classroom, Cynthia has not let her academic prowess inflate her ego. She has remained calm, soft spoken, and diligent in serving those around her. “Keystone has helped me to become a more empathetic person,” said Cynthia. “I enjoy helping people and this is something I will continue to do even after I graduate from Keystone.”
“When I met Cynthia three years ago, she was very shy, she barely spoke or participated in class discussions,” high school math teacher Marjorie Garcia- Barnes said. “The Cynthia of today is completely different. She is outspoken, she expresses her ideas well, she is sure of herself and she knows what she is capable of. When students ask for help, she is helpful, she is patient and she always takes her time to make sure that people understand her answers or explanations.”
The Journey Continues: Brown University
“Keystone has definitely made me more independent,” Cynthia remarked. “Previously I lived at home with my parents before coming to Keystone, and living in this boarding community has really shaped a lot of my study skills and coping mechanisms for living alone which is definitely needed for college.”
For most high school seniors around the world, the college application season is daunting, long, and riddled with anxiety. On top of academic study and final year exams, students must make major life decisions as they enter the next phase of their journeys. For Cynthia, Keystone’s Office of College Counseling offered majored support to her as she researched schools, and pushed her to dream big.
Mrs. Amanda Yan, Co-Director of the Office of College Counseling, served as Cynthia’s college counselor. “Mrs. Yan was with each and every one of us from the very beginning of the process,” Cynthia said. “She really pushed us to research schools on our own before giving her own suggestions. We never felt limited.”
On Cynthia’s college wish list was a university with small class sizes, influenced by her experience at Keystone, and a school with a flexible and open curriculum that would allow her to delved into a range of academic subjects. “Mrs. Yan suggested many great liberal arts colleges and universities to me. In the beginning I didn’t have the courage to apply to them, and I thought they were too high of targets for me. In the end though, my dream school was Brown, and if it wasn’t for Mrs. Yan, I would have never applied.”
As applications results began rolling out, Cynthia became discouraged by the number of rejections and waitlists she had been placed on. “I had assumed I would be accepted into almost all of the schools I applied to. When the rejection and waitlist decision letters arrived, I had no idea what to do,” said Cynthia. “When the Brown decision letter came out, I was on my way to airport for a flight to Singapore to visit NUS (National University of Singapore) because I was sure I was going to attend that school. I opened the email and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had been accepted into my dream school!”
This fall, Cynthia will matriculate into the Brown Class of 2023. As a private, Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island, Cynthia will study Mathematics at Brown. Her calm demeanor, and fierce determination matches well with Brown, a member of the Ivy League.
“I am beyond grateful for making the decision to attend Keystone,” Cynthia said joyously. “Brown is my dream school and I am excited to take everything I’ve learned from Keystone to the next stage of my journey!”