PETALING JAYA – Getting accepted into one prestigious Ivy League university is already quite an achievement.

But for Cassandra Hsiao, a Malaysian-born student now living in the United States, she has been accepted not by two or even three universities, but by all eight Ivy League schools this year.

“It’s totally surreal. It’s still sinking in. I had a moment to myself yesterday where I was just sobbing. I celebrated with my parents.

“This is quite the honour, to have these fantastic institutions accept me. It’s really something,” she said in an interview published on the US website The Tab.
The Ivy League is a group of eight private institutions of higher education in the United States comprising Brown University, Columbia, Cor­nell, Harvard, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale.

They are among the most prestigious and highly-ranked universities worldwide, and are often associated with academic excellence and high selectivity of admissions.

She has also been accepted by Stanford University, Johns Hop­kins University and several others.

Cassandra, 17, was born to a Taiwanese father and Malaysian mother in Johor Baru. She emigrated to the United States when she was five years old and now lives in southern California. She was also her school magazine’s editor-in-chief.

“I enjoy the food and the vibrancy of the culture of Malaysia. I go back every two years,” she said in an e-mail interview with The Star yesterday.

Two literary pieces on her Malay­sian experiences, Pasar Malam and Ode to the Nightmarket, have been published in the online arts journal Rambutan Literary.

Her applications essay played a big role in her acceptance into the universities, where she wrote about learning English while growing up in a house of immigrants.

“I wanted to explore the differences between the way we talk inside and outside the house.

“Many readers, and not only immigrants, were able to connect because our language and speech patterns are different when we talk with people we love and are comfortable around,” she said.

Cassandra is already a star reporter, having interviewed celebrities such as Chris Evans, Morgan Freeman and Octavia Spencer.

She plans to go into the storytelling arts.

“In the next couple of weeks, I will be visiting certain schools and exploring their programmes, learning from professors and talking with students to find a place that will be a comfortable, lovely and supportive home for the next four years,” she said.