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Young Achiever: Victor Chen

At only 16 years of age, Shanghai United International School Gubei student, Victor Chen, boasts an academic résumé enviable by even the most erudite university types. Not only does the 11th grade dynamo excel at all his subjects including biology, chemistry, maths and computers & society, but just last year he achieved an astounding seven A–A* grades on his IGSCE examinations, making him one of the school’s top tier scholastic performers.

Ever the humble character, Chen refuses to impress upon others his own scholarly achievements and instead enjoys discussing his true passion – paleontology – an interest cultivated through science-related TV shows, books and websites while growing up.

“Like every kid, I was fascinated by dinosaurs,” he says. But unlike other most dinosaur-worshippers, Chen might actually be able transform his childhood dreams into reality as he plans to pursue paleontology at university in Canada. Even at this early stage in the game Chen possesses some impressive credentials, most notably spending two summers studying paleo-biology in the John’s Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program.

Although he may be a poster-child for honing in on one pursuit, Chen also stresses the importance of acquiring a diverse pool of knowledge.

“I try to learn as much as possible,” he says. “It’s better to be an expert in many things than an expert in none.” And Chen doesn’t fail to support his case. Displaying his undying love for learning, in his free time Chen reads everything from novels to textbooks in an effort to absorb more information. He also dabbles in drawing, claiming it helps him with his imagination. But perhaps the most impressive indicator of Chen’s many facets is his recent participation in summer programs covering Middle Eastern and International politics with the aforementioned John’s Hopkins organisation.

Although Chen experienced a unique upbringing by Western standards – Taiwanese-born, raised in Shanghai, but of Canadian nationality – he doesn’t attribute his vast range of accomplishments and stimulating passions to his origins.

“Most of the students here at SUIS come from diverse backgrounds,” he says and instead cites pure willpower as the principal factor in distinguishing the successful scholars. When asked if he has any parting words of wisdom for other young pupils, Chen simply states, “Do what you think is right. You know best what you need and want.”


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