When Yeen first started learning at Garden International School, she knew almost no English.
After spending a few months with English Language Support teachers, she soon improved. By the time Yeen reached Year 11, she passed her IGCSEs and was even given a ‘top in the world’ award.
Yeen has just been awarded a First Class Honours degree from Durham University in accounting and finance and is about to start her post-graduate degree at the world-famous University of Cambridge.
Durham is ranked 5th best in the UK, while the University of Cambridge was recently ranked the 2nd best university in the world.
Yeen applied to the University of Cambridge last November and had a long wait before hearing she had been successful. She has now just begun studying for her Masters in Real Estate Finance.
Yeen said her experience at GIS doing the IB Diploma was excellent preparation for life at the world’s top universities.
“When I first came to GIS I was struggling a bit as I couldn’t understand that much and English was quite difficult. The English language support programme, IGCSE and especially IB was great for university. IB isn’t just teaching you language, it’s preparing you for further study.
“I remember when you do the Extended Essay for IB it seems like it’s too much to take but here if you have to write 4,000 words, maybe that’s not enough; it’s hard to have such a low boundary.
“CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) is more useful than anything else. You can put that in your CV when you apply to university because they are not just interested in your grades but also your extra-curricular experiences. If you do A levels, they don’t have that kind of subject. If you have the IB Diploma it’s really good for you.”
After arriving in Durham in 2015, Yeen settled quickly, making friends with many of the other Asian students who study there. She also found some excellent Thai restaurants, which ensured she wasn’t homesick.
While at Durham, Yeen helped run a Thai society for the 100 Thai students who study at the university, which involved special sports events and a Thai night. Knowing that she wanted to keep studying in the UK, Yeen started applying to top universities such as University College London (UCL), the London School of Economics (LSE) and Cambridge at the end of last year.
She said, “My plan was always to continue with a post-graduate degree but I didn’t expect I would be at Cambridge! It took quite a long time for Cambridge to reply and I had applied to a lot of places.”
Yeen submitted a personal statement and references from two lecturers, but wasn’t required to attend an interview at Cambridge. When she discovered Cambridge had offered her a place, she was stunned.
“I kept checking my computer for an email from them. First I got an offer from LSE so I thought maybe I missed out with Cambridge, but then I got an email from them too.
“I was shocked to be honest. I was not expecting that at all. My family was over the moon.”
Yeen’s progress has been remarkable. When Yeen joined GIS towards the end of Year 7, back in 2009, she was in our English Language Support programme with Mr Berry. At the start she studied for the Key English Test (KET), which is for students with elementary English skills. She quickly progressed, and gained a range of top IGCSE grades. These included an award for having the best score in the world for IGCSE Thai.
Yeen then completed her IB Diploma at GIS in 2015, finishing with a score of 38 – at the time, the highest-ever score by a Thai student at GIS.
Yeen had some useful tips for our current IB students. “I think the best thing to do is when you have some free time it’s better to spend it in the study room than the common room, so you can review what you have been taught. Time management is quite important, you have a lot of deadlines in IB.”
Yeen’s sister Khing may be about to follow a similar path. She is also currently in the UK, and is in her final year of her Economics’ degree at the University of Warwick.
Congratulations to Yeen for gaining a place at one of the world’s top universities. It’s a great example of what GIS can help students achieve.
GIS is based in Ban Chang near Pattaya. See www.gardenrayong.com for more.