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[EXCLUSIVE] “I Think The Neighbours Could Hear Me,” Jarell Cheong On The Moment He Found Out He Was Going To Harvard

today23 April 2021


Harvard had the lowest admission rate in its 385-year history. Now, meet Jarell Cheong, one of the two Malaysians accepted into Harvard University (the other being Muhammad Hamdi Ahmad Hakimi). These two Malaysian geniuses were chosen from more than 50,000 applicants, making them part of the lowest 3.4% admission rate (1968 students) Harvard has ever had. Jarell Cheong will join the institution’s undergraduate class of 2025. In the meantime, the boy from Kuala Lumpur had a moment to sit down with Fly FM’s BK and Ili to talk a bit about his process, journey, SEA Games ballroom dancing, application advice and more!


1. Did you experience any challenges or struggles to get to where you are today?

Definitely. I’m the type of person that’ll try to do as many things as I can. All sorts of competitions, contests and examinations because I find that fun. But it comes with the nature of competition where sometimes you win but most of the time you’ll lose. So I had to deal with losses in the many things that I did.


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A post shared by Jarell Cheong (@jarell.cheong)

2. Any challenges from parents, family or friends?

They were extremely supportive of what I wanted to do. They’re not the typical “you must do this, must achieve that” kind of parents.

3. Can you tell us more about this mathematical equation on “how to get to Harvard” that you have on your blog?

I really wanted to give something back and write something to accumulate my thoughts over the years, but I wanted to do it interestingly. So I made an equation. It’s like a number equals to a number divided by another number. So if you understand how fractions work, it should be easy for you to understand.

4. You applied to Harvard before. What was going through your mind the first time?

I was applying for fun because I was halfway through school. It was more like a test run to familiarize myself with how admission processes work.


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A post shared by Jarell Cheong (@jarell.cheong)

5. Relive the moment (with your parents) you found out you got accepted. What’s happening?

It was early morning (about 7 am) I was reluctant to wake up but I got up to check. The first word I saw was “Congratulations”. I recall just responding with “What?” multiple times, possibly loud enough for the neighbours to hear.

Watch the full interview here:

Congratulations Jarell!

Photo Credit: Nadiah Wan/Harvard Club of Malaysia

Written by: Mifzal Malik

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today23 April 2021

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