Lim Jia Yi (Class of 2017)

A student of Applied Mathematics and Economics at Harvard University

It is always great to hear how our Alumni are getting on as they progress through life, moving on to bigger and better things. Many of our students at GIS go on to study at some of the world’s best universities and it was wonderful to hear from Jia Yi Lim, who recently moved from Malaysia to the US and is now settling into life at Harvard University.

When in Year 13, Jia Yi was over the moon to have received offers from Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge, having only made 3 applications! Harvard was chosen in the end, but it was certainly a decision which took considerable time, a lot of thought and careful deliberation.

Having received an award for Top in Malaysia for her AS exam, Jia Yi went on to also be awarded Top in the World for CIE A Level Economics, a major achievement indeed. After congratulating her we took the opportunity to ask Jia Yi about her time so far at Harvard as well as for some tips that may be useful to our current and future economists…see her answers below:

So, how is Harvard?
Harvard is a very intense but meaningful place. My first year here has really taught me about how to effectively balance my time academically and socially whilst making use of the vast wealth of opportunities on campus. I think that the most beautiful thing about Harvard is the abundance of amazing people on campus: you can have so many cool and thoughtful conversations with both the students and professors.

What are you studying?
I am currently taking a few courses in Multivariable Math, Mathematical Modelling, and Macro Economics. I really enjoy the flexibility I’m allowed in designing my education whilst staying very focused on my interests.

How are you contributing at Harvard beyond your academics?
I’m currently an associate of the Harvard College Consulting Group where I research market entry strategies and alternative revenue streams for a Fortune 50 tax consulting firm.

I am also an Intern at the Harvard Foundation where I work closely with the Harvard administration to plan several college-wide programmes to engage both students and faculty with issues surrounding intercultural ties and race relations and act as a liaison between cultural groups on campus and the Student Advisory Committee. This involves organising this year’s Cultural Rhythms festival as well as directing the award ceremony for the Humanitarian of the Year. Next year, I will be the co-chair of the Student Advisory Committee which is comprised of student leaders from 100+ cultural, religious, and affinity groups on campus, I will also be developing a process for leading the distribution of $80,000 in grants to these groups.
In addition, I am part of Harvard’s Intercollegiate Model United Nations team where I represent Harvard on the national and international circuit. I will be a Director in both HMUN (Harvard Model United Nations) & HNMUN (Harvard National Model United Nations) for high school and college students early next year.

This year’s Humanitarian of the Year was awarded to Sir Elton John for his work in AIDS activism and in the LGBTQ community. It was a very surreal moment to meet, greet, and even receive a kiss from this humble and wise icon.

What comes to your mind when you hear ‘GIS’?
My experience at GIS, both academically and personally, has been very formative. This is especially so due to the inspiring teachers I’ve had in my Economics and Mathematics classes. I am very grateful for the empowering community in GIS and I will always reminisce about all the memories, challenging and rewarding moments in this school.

How did GIS prepare you for University?
I have always thought that the most meaningful learning experiences will happen in classrooms. After experiencing the first few months of university, I began to realize how wrong that impression was. I realized that some of my most meaningful learning experiences came from outside-of-the-classroom interactions rather than inside. I learned most from talking with people of different ages, experiences, and backgrounds. By being more open-minded to new perspectives, it allowed me to consider and cross-apply what I learned from conversations into my academic setting as well. GIS really prepares students well for intercultural conversations, and I hope more students actively experience this at school and at university.

What’s your advice to current GIS students?
I’ve come to realize that there is so much potential for self improvement each day if we carved out the time to learn something new each day.

Hence, my biggest advice is for students to strategically allocate time to learn something new each day. I think that this passion for learning is especially necessary in today’s rapidly changing society where students need to be more adaptable to changing economic and technological structures.