Friday 20 Oct 2023
DSAS Graduates Jefferson Gunahin

Jefferson Gunahin

A traveller I am, and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul.

—— Khalil Gibran, writer

The night of January 11 was unforgettable for Jefferson Gunahin, a 12th grader. It was the moment he finally received an offer from the University of Oxford. More than 10 years of hard work had paid off.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford is a leading public research university, located in Oxford, England. It is a member of the Russell Group of top UK research universities, a part of the unofficial grouping of Oxford, Cambridge and London-based universities known as the Golden Triangle, and a member of the G5 group of elite research universities in England. The University of Oxford has a lofty academic status and exerts extensive influence in the fields of mathematics, physics, medicine, law, business among others. In short, it is recognised as one of the world's top institutions of higher education.

The University of Oxford is ranked first in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings, a title it has held for five consecutive years from 2017 to 2021. It is also ranked second in the QS World University Rankings 2022.

Whether it is Anxing Shen, who was admitted to the University of Chicago, Yiheng Liu, who was admitted to the University of Cambridge, or Jefferson, who has just been admitted to the University of Oxford, these outstanding students share the same qualities: great concentration and independent study skills.

School principal Shen Maode said: "As the saying goes: 'One side nurtures the other’ so an 'ability-oriented' school culture will surely nurture more first-class students."

We respect each students’ differences and are committed to supporting their individual development in academics, sports, art and other areas. Only when the student has sufficient choice does he or she have a chance of knowing what to devote themselves to and what to give up.

When a student finds something he or she is willing to spend time on, there is a natural motivation. The ideal education prepares every student today for success in the future.

The first impression of this young 18-year-old man from Jakarta, Indonesia, is that he speaks fluent and standard Mandarin with a confident, cheerful and steady smile. As a founding student at the school, Jefferson has spent almost all his teenage years at Wuxi Dipont School of Arts and Science, starting in eighth grade.

His teachers and classmates have witnessed his growth. Principal Shen Maode said of Jefferson: "A good student should be like him. After four years on campus I was convinced that Jefferson would be admitted to a top university. At school assemblies and club activities, I often saw Jefferson as head boy presiding over meetings and organising activities. His dexterous thinking and English language levels always amazed me."

Now, the teenager who grew up at Wuxi Dipont School of Arts and Science, is about to leave his beloved campus and go to the University of Oxford to study chemistry. The journey is just beginning and the scroll depicting his golden age is slowly unfolding……

How to become a “Da Shen”

On campus, Zheng Guorong (Jefferson’s Chinese name) is a "da shen (guru/expert/whizz)" in the eyes of his classmates, who often call him Jeff Shen.

Jefferson explains: "Shortly after I entered the school, I won several awards at the same time, so my classmates created this nickname using a homonym of my English name."

Jefferson has a strong independent study skills, winning the school's highest scholarship and the Mathematics of the Month award three times. He also participated in a summer school on chemical research at the University of Pennsylvania and won the Bronze Award in the NEC National Economics Challenge. Additionally, he took part in the Duke of Edinburgh, gaining the Bronze Award and is currently working towards the Silver Award.

As the only student who has completed nine IGCSE courses (achieving 8 A*s) since the school was founded, Jefferson has won the applause of every teacher. He was also the first student to complete EFL, ICT, CSL and geography. Even in the 11th grade, with heavy academic pressure, he never slacked off. He maintained the highest score in similar subjects and won the Honour Roll in Upper Secondary every year.

When it comes to his favourite subject, Jefferson is clear in his answer: mathematics. "I think of mathematics as a subject that looks at the world like a kaleidoscope,” he said. “It's wonderful, interesting, and mysterious. Each newly learned formula and manipulation number combination is like spinning the kaleidoscope. Each deformation of a new formula seems to create a new graph, enticing me to explore further."

Whenever he talks about mathematics, his eyes shine with the light of knowledge.

Jefferson is an incredibly motivated student and is always striving to better himself. His self-discipline, focus and determination allow him to overcome any obstacles that get in his way. In grade 10, such was Jefferson’s drive to learn the subjects that he is passionate about that he independently studied several IGCSE subjects on top of his already-busy schedule. Jefferson is a well-rounded student with diverse interests, including mathematics, world geography, computing, languages and badminton. He is more than ready to step up to a university environment, where he can challenge himself at a higher level.

—— Sam Jones,Head of Mathematics ICC Academic Coordinator

Few people know that for Jefferson, who was born in Indonesia, English is his second language. Years of international school experience have enabled Jefferson to acquire the same fluent English conversation skills as any student of the same age in the UK or the US, with a confident tone and rich vocabulary. In the classroom, Jefferson often lightens the classroom atmosphere with witty quips.It is also worth mentioning that last year, Jefferson completed a project on carbohydrates as part of the postgraduate "Super Course" project conducted by our school and Jiangnan University.

Jefferson is a very capable student with a good academic performance. The school provided him with a personalised timetable to help prepare him for his college majors. The school also provides relevant courses for top students like him to develop their leadership and public speaking skills."

—— Stefan Sjodin,Head of Secondary School

The flower of idealistic education will eventually bloom in the soil of multiculturalism

In the eyes of his college counsellor, Yucheng Xie, Jefferson is a very self-disciplined and straightforward young man. “He came to my office on time every day to talk what he had learned, what problems he had encountered, and what study plans he had,” said Yucheng. “He likes playing badminton and spending time in the library. He does not pursue material enjoyment that much, and he seems no different from other high school students. With his father working in Japan, his mother and brother living in Indonesia, and Jefferson living alone in a foreign country for more than half a year, he is an independent and resilient young person.”

In his spare time, Jefferson is a sports fan, with swimming and badminton his two favorite sports. As badminton is the Indonesian national sport, he has loved it since he was a little child.

As Vice President of the High School Student Council, Jefferson is active in all stages of high school life. On our campus, the role of the Student Council is crucial, providing a platform for students to express their own views, concerns and issues. As a member of the Student Council, Jefferson also organised successful student events, including photography contests and film festivals. As Jefferson says: "The high school student committee is just getting started. A a member, I feel extremely honoured and proud to be able to lay a solid foundation for it and build a better system for the students who will participate in the student committee in the future."

In the first semester of 2021, Jefferson founded the Perfume Club CCA (Extension Class). At the extension class exhibition at the beginning of the semester, he successfully recruited more than 20 like-minded club members. Their aim is to apply chemistry knowledge to daily life and learn how to refine fragrances. They successfully produced four different perfumes, selling them at school and raising 1,000 yuan for the Huang Shaping Hope Primary School.

As early as last November, before Jefferson had received an interview invitation from Oxford University, the counselling department had contacted the academic team at King's College School to conduct a mock interview with Jefferson.

Since more than 30 students from King's College are admitted to Cambridge and Oxford every year, they gave him detailed guidance on a range of areas from interview etiquette to specific interview content. In addition, to help him with more complex chemical knowledge, the school’s chemistry teacher also advised Jefferson.

DSAS has an academic programme composed of tutors with Cambridge, Oxford and Ivy League academic backgrounds. Lydia, one of these teachers, provided Jefferson with a tailored interview course once he had been offered a formal interview. This course was crucial in honing his skills ready for the important interview.

On the afternoon of the last round of interviews, with training for the interview still in progress, all the effort finally paid off.

After being accepted by the university, Jefferson is unequivocal in saying that without the support of these teachers, it was would have been impossible to imagine gaining a place at Oxford University on his own.

Success is never achieved overnight, and the birth of outstanding students lies in their tireless curiosity and the support of their families and schools. We believe that the flower of idealistic education will eventually bloom in the soil of multiculturalism. Offers from top universities are simply the fruit of maturity. The light of the future may be lonely and long, but after hard work, it will shine bright.