During her seven years at Dulwich Pudong, Serena L thrived from opportunities to pursue new interests and develop new skills.
Serena’s journey began at a local Chinese school; she joined Dulwich Pudong in Year 7. She has continued to excel during her years at Dulwich where she earned a prestigious bilingual IB Diploma, attesting to her academic abilities in both English and Chinese, one of 10 graduates in the Class of 2022 to earn this distinguished achievement.
Looking back to her first year at Dulwich, Serena admits she found her initial experience studying completely in English to be very challenging. But despite some tearful moments, she embraced the challenge and through it has built tremendous resilience.
“I couldn’t let myself stay in that situation, so I signed up for a lot of Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) like Zheng He orchestra. But I didn’t know what Zheng He orchestra meant, so I just joined without any musical instrument background,” Serena reveals. “I want to thank Mr Goss for letting me play the percussion!”
Serena utilised her fluency in Mandarin and strategically joined CCAs that required Mandarin language abilities. For example, she volunteered to provide translation services to local restaurants.
“I gained more confidence in those small communities, but I also used my Chinese skills to help other people. Then I became confident enough to engage with others even more,” Serena shares.
Serena’s interests quickly expanded and formed a vital part of her experience at Dulwich. Trying out different CCAs was a great opportunity to explore different fields and interests such as in the arts, language, sustainability, and maths.
“CCAs like Econ Mentorship, Dance, Global Investment, and Robotics made me delve deeper into my areas of interest and develop my strength in these specific fields.”
Serena also found success in fencing where she had the opportunity to participate and also help as an assistant coach.
“I really enjoyed coaching younger students in our fencing club. Coach Taras and Coach Wojtek gave me so much advice on leadership and collaboration,” she shares. Serena also earned a bronze prize in the woman’s foil in the Jing’an Administration of Sports I CAN I SHOW sports tournament.
Serena’s life was changed when she was selected to serve as the president of the Tech Ambassadors CCA. “The role challenged me to be extra responsible and forced me to make quick decisions, take risks, and look at the bigger picture.”
Serena was president of Tech Ambassadors for two years and during that time the team organised the biggest HakD (Hackathon Dulwich) event to date. HakD is a large-scale event where students from different schools attended tech workshops and collaborated on projects over the course of a weekend.
“I love being able to help other people and assist to solve problems, and managing a team allows me to help more people. I am a team player, but team players can be leaders,” she says.
Future in Computer Science
Serena found the IB Programme to be beneficial both academically and helped her develop balance in life. Aspects of the IBDP, including as learning to research, cite, and graph for the Extended Essay, were very constructive preparations for university. Outside of IBDP, Serena also excelled in maths, earning a Gold in the UKMT Olympiad Senior Kangaroo.
Many Dulwich teachers positively influenced her academic journey. Serena is especially grateful for her Computer Science teacher Mr Whitaker. “I’ve known him since my first Computer Science lesson at Dulwich. He ignited my passion for Computer Science and has supported me both within and outside of classes.”
Mr Whitaker nurtured Serena’s journey in leadership. “He encouraged me a lot to trust my own decisions. He acted as a mentor and watched me grow. I am very grateful for having such an amazing teacher!”
Serena is also grateful for the guidance she received from her university counsellor Mr Devlin. “I learned more about myself every meeting I had with him. He helped me understand myself and discover my qualities.”
After living her whole life in Shanghai, Serena is crossing the Pacific to the University of Southern California to study Computer Science.
USC is her #bestfit school for many reasons, including its strong school spirit and collaborative academic environment.
“I chose USC for three things: school vibe, location, and classes. Firstly, USC is a big school but has small class sizes, which is quite similar to the Dulwich experience. Secondly, it’s located in Los Angeles where the tech and entertainment industries I want to work in are thriving. Lastly, it has strong academic departments not just for Computer Science, but also for business, arts, and social sciences and has an open-class policy.”
Serena’s holistic view of life was nurtured at Dulwich. “Life isn’t just about studying or working. We should make time to relax, do physical activities, and give back to the community. My time at Dulwich was really wonderful and I’m so grateful for it!”
Congratulations Serena! We look forward to seeing you bring your multiple talents into your career in tech and entertainment.