Graduate's Story - Think like Chemists
Capping the many fine offers our students have achieved, we are proud to announce that Year 13 Simon W has received an offer from University of Oxford to study Chemistry. ‘Be positive, curious and always persevere’, these are the three characteristics that Simon has chosen to describe himself. Indeed, these characteristics are embedded in his personality. Being admitted to Oxford was not a complete surprise to Simon as it is the result of continuous efforts for more than two years. Most Oxbridge candidates have outstanding academic results. To stand out among all these excellent students is not easy. • AS Grades: AAAA • A-Level Predictions: A*A*A*A* • Review article 'Collaboration between C-H activation and pericyclic reactions for constructing fused eight-membered and four-membered carbocycles' accepted by the 3rd International Conference on Applied Chemistry and Industrial Catalysis (ACIC 2021) and is to be published in the Journal of Physics: Conference Series, as well as submitted for index in EI and SCOPUS. • Gold Certificate in the UK Chemistry Olympiad • Special Merit Award and Gold Award in the Canadian Chemistry Competition His excellent academic rersults put Simon on the starting line with other Oxford candidates. It was though his strong interest in and perseverance towards Chemistry that ultimately made him succesful. 'I think what really made me stand out among all candidates was my strong and constant interest in the chosen subject. The university saw my potential to thrive as a chemist. And strong problem-solving skills and the ability to deal with pressure were also crucial qualities that the professors found in me.' After finishing studying the A-Level Chemistry course at the end of Year 11, Simon chose to dig deeper by beginning to read some undergraduate level textbooks. From Zumdahl's 'Chemical Principles', Atkin's 'Physical Chemistry', Weller's 'Inorganic Chemistry' Keeler & Wothers' 'Why chemical reactions happen' to Clayden's 'Organic Chemistry', these books provided Simon with insights into various disciplines of chemistry and developed and further confirmed his interests in each field. ‘These books familiarized me with how chemists think, which helped me tremendously in succeeding in my Oxford interview,’ Simon said. Harrow offers the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) course, which is recognized by many leading universities all over the world, including Oxford. As a part of the EPQ course, a 5000-word essay and a 25-minute presentation are assessed. Completing the course with an A* prediction not only added more competitiveness to his university application but also confirmed his interest in science by revealing the fundamentals of scientific research and laid a solid foundation for for him to conduct academic research. 'Our history teacher Dr James Hill gave us extremely useful lectures on academic research skills. My supervisor, Mr Philip Mawson, Head of Chemistry, who helped me review my essay and presentation, and kindly offered dozens of hours of his free time to guide me through the lab work relevant to my research.' Simon said. The success is inseparable from the powerful ‘brain trust’ behind Simon. ‘Mr Damien Tomkins, my University and Careers Guidance Counsellor, supported me throughout my entire application process. Dr Thomas Hill, my current organic Chemistry teacher, who spent many years in Oxford as a student and a researcher, offered lots of his free time and conducted around 10 mock Oxford interviews for me. He’s also always keen and capable of answering all my undergraduate-level Chemistry questions.’ Simon said. Simon has been a House Prefect of Curie in school and had worked with his brilliant House Prefect team in leading a range of House events, including Sports Day, House Music, Chinese New Year Celebration and their unique House charity program. In the last few months, they’ve made astonishing achievements in carrying out all these House activities successfully helping other students to step into leadership roles and creating a sense of belonging in Curie. ‘I cannot emphasize enough the benefit of this experience in showing me where the responsibility of a leader lies and in the development of my leadership skills. There had been times when I was under extreme pressure. The Curie Six Form student body has been the most supportive community I’ve ever been in. I know this spirit will be popularized and passed on in the Harrow Beijing student community.’ Simon said.