GEORGE TOWN: Years of hard work have paid off for Penang youngster Kingston Lew Yen Wei, who has been accepted into the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.
The 18-year-old former student of Chung Ling Private High School will start his degree programme in Computer Science, Economics and Data Science on an almost full scholarship in August.
“I’m both happy and relieved as I’ve been hoping to get into a great school like MIT for a very long time. It’s a place many notable individuals from around the world graduated from.
“I can’t wait to be part of a community of learners and scholars, and will do my best to bring honour to my state and country,” Lew said at a press conference in Komtar yesterday.
He received a RM3,000 contribution from the Penang state government, which was handed over by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy.
“We hope this will encourage more students in Penang to keep striving for academic excellence. We hope they’ll return to Malaysia and contribute to the community,” Chow remarked.
MIT has been ranked as the No.1 university in the world by the QS World University Rankings for 11 straight years, and also ranks at the top in 12 subject areas, including Computer Science.
This will not be Lew’s first experience in the US. Prior to this, he did his two-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme at United World College in New Mexico under a scholarship from the Davis Foundation.
While there, he had to contend with pandemic restrictions and the state’s annual forest fires.
“When the fires happened, students had to be evacuated to relief centres. We did our final exams at a relief centre.
“It was a very stressful experience and I’m proud to have overcome it,” said Lew.
His father Lew Park Leong and mother Chong Yueh Chin, who both run a hair salon, were also present.
“As parents, we’re definitely proud. We were initially worried about how he would cope in a new environment and struggled to let go. But he managed to pull through all by himself,” said Chong.
Lew said he did experience some culture shock while in the US previously, but a good command of English helped him cope.
“Schools in the US are less strict than the ones here – they have fewer rules and more flexibility for students. We weren’t required to wear uniforms.
“The best part was meeting lots of people from different parts of the world and learning about their cultures,” he added.
Lew has always been active in co-curricular activities, particularly in debate and public speaking, where he regularly impresses audiences with trilingual presentations in English, Malay and Mandarin.
His mentor Dr Rebecca Ow Phui San, a life sciences consultant with the Penang Science Cluster, reminded Lew to always practise lifelong learning.
“Be open-minded and explore different things as America is the land of opportunities,” she advised, adding that communication skills were one of the most important assets for a student to have.