Natalie Rader: The Humble High-Achiever

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In this week’s edition of Student Blogs, we’re delighted to highlight the outstanding achievement of Year 13 student Natalie Rader, who was recently named a Commended Student in the 2018 United States National Merit Scholarship Program. Commended Students are recognised for their exceptional academic promise, as determined by placing in the top 2% of scorers from more than 1.6 million entrants in the 2018 competition.

In the interview below, Natalie shares details about her life at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, the process through which she received the Commended Student honour, and her advice for other students who would like to try for the National Merit Scholarship as well.

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Natalie Rader, and I’m currently a Year 13 student working on the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).  My family has been in China for two years, and my sister is also a Secondary student here at YCIS Beijing.


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What do you feel are the unique advantages of being a student at an international school?

It’s wonderful to be surrounded by people from so many different countries.  Through exposure to different cultures, even small things like getting to try the foods from your friends’ lunches and seeing what YouTube videos and television shows they watch, allows you to find new interests and broaden your horizons.

What was your first impression of YCIS Beijing?

Compared to my old school, YCIS Beijing is smaller and has a more familial environment. The closeness of the community is very different from what I experienced in the US, because at my old school there were so many people that I wouldn't recognise or know everyone’s names. But here, I know everyone in my year level, and we often go and do things outside of school together, which is great.


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How has YCIS Beijing prepared you for the academic successes and recognition that you’re now receiving?

The teachers here are extremely knowledgeable, so I feel that I’m being well prepared for the upcoming IBDP exams next semester.  Regarding the National Merit Scholarship Commendation, that was based on the PSAT examination – so though that’s not a subject that is specifically taught, I feel that my teachers helped to give me the confidence that I needed in order to perform well.

What was the process through which you received the Commended Student recognition?

The process is quite simple, actually. You just need to be in your junior year of high school, you have to be an American citizen, and you have to check a box when you take the PSAT that says you’d like to be considered for the scholarship.  Depending on your score, you’ll then proceed through several rounds of selection in which Commendations and Scholarships are awarded.


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What are some tips you have for students who want to apply for the same scholarship?

Prepare for the PSAT before you take the exam.  Learn some of the techniques and strategies for eliminating wrong answers, reading passages strategically, etc, and then make sure to get a good night’s sleep before the exam.

The work that you put in for the PSAT can also be applied later to the SAT exam, which is then important for university admissions.

How was your experience meeting President Trump?

During President Trump’s recent trip to China, he visited with all of the local diplomats, of whom my father is one. 

Meeting the President was cool, because you always see these figureheads on television, but you never see them in real life.  It felt unreal in that way.  But it was also interesting because, in person, President Trump isn’t that different from what you see on television; his real life and television personas are quite the same.

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