Emily Chea

As I reflect on my experience at SAS, its culmination still not quite settled in, I have come to realize that it was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time, the perfect choice for me. Having been a high-achieving student from the moment I stepped into a classroom, SAS provided me the opportunities and environment I needed to hone in my skills and pursue my ambitions. 

Now making preparations for my freshman year of college – creating lists of dorm supplies, curating my first semester schedule, buying winter clothes – I recall the transition I underwent not too long ago from my first high school to SAS. Being a “COVID freshman,” I had only just gotten around to being accustomed to my first high school, and more so to the “traditional” high school experience, this consistent of meeting diverse groups of people, joining a plethora of clubs, and taking traditional high school courses. I was frightened of embarking new change: Would I miss out on this experience? Would SAS be too stressful? Would the environment and the people be welcoming? 

Effectively, walking into MDC Wolfson’s Building 8 my first day of junior year, any and all of my worries were quelled. From that day until the last, I was showered in support by everybody at SAS: my peers and I were a tight-knit, encouraging, and kind group, my class filled with people from all different high schools, cultural backgrounds, and walks of life; my teachers were incredibly supportive throughout all of our courses, receptive to any concerns or questions anybody might have; Mr. Lindsay provided huge strength and encouragement during the Silver Knight application process and all other aspects of my community service project, listening to and supporting my ideas; and finally, my wonderful counselor Ms. Martinez ensured that I had the resources and tools I need to always advocate for myself and ensure my success in college and any future endeavors. 

Following these thrilling two years at SAS, I would be delighted to report to my sophomore self that: no, SAS is not a traditional high school experience. In fact, with the support and strength of the people aforementioned, SAS became everything I expected high school to be and more. I was able to join and lead a variety of clubs, begin to immerse myself in the college experience through numerous dual-enrollment classes through MDC, and adequately prepare myself for college applications and university – to a greater extent, I believe, than in any other high school in Miami – all while still participating in events that my peers at other schools had as well. 

I frequently remark to my friends the astonishing metamorphosis we underwent at SAS, how different our lives and futures would be had we not submitted that application during our sophomore year, had the courage to leave our comfort zones at our past high school(s), and chosen to instead challenge ourselves with this program. We see other hesitant freshmen and sophomores and assuredly encourage them to take the leap as we did; we hope that our accomplishments – myself, I will be attending Emory University as a full-ride Gates Scholarship recipient in the fall – will be evidence enough of SAS’s commitment to their students’ successes. To SAS, I am forever indebted for the opportunities and preparation it has provided me, leading me to graduate from a top university entirely debt-free; to incoming SAS juniors: it will be tough, yet rewarding. You are more resilient thank you think. 

Emily Chea
School for Advanced Studies Wolfson Campus, Class of 2024
Emory University, Class of 2026