Los Angeles

First-Generation Immigrant Teen From LA Accepted to All Ivy League Schools

Cassandra Hsiao immigrated from Malaysia at just 5 years old, and it was her essay about learning English that impressed the universities

A 17-year-old is making Southern California proud after she achieved the incredible feat of being accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.

"It's completely surreal," Cassandra Hsiao told NBC4 Tuesday. "I opened them one after another, and they all were saying, 'Congratulations! Congratulations!' And I know that is something special."

Hsiao, from Walnut, has offers from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Penn – leaving her with the difficult decision of which world-class institution she wants to join as part of the class of 2021.

Hsiao immigrated from Malaysia at just 5 years old. She’s a first-generation immigrant, and it was her essay about learning English that impressed the universities.

Touting her 4.67 GPA and 1540 score on the SATs, the writer and journalist attends Orange County School of the Arts.

But the impressive resume doesn’t end there – she’s one of two student body presidents, an editor-in-chief of the school's magazine and active in her community.

Hsiao has conducted on-camera interviews on red carpets at film festivals, media screenings and press conferences. The conversations she's had with dozens of celebrities can be found on her YouTube channel.


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Hsiao even bravely took the chance to ask "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel-Miranda a question by rapping at a news conference for Disney's "Moana."

"She's multi-faceted," Josh Wood, OCSA's director of creative writing, said of the student journalist, film critic and playwright. "She's such a go-getter and makes opportunities for herself."

In addition to being accepted to all Ivy League schools, she was also accepted to Stanford University, John Hopkins University, University of Southern California, Northwestern University, New York University, Amherst College and many others in the UC system.

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