North Brunswick student accepted to multiple colleges

Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK – Cynthia Liang has a difficult choice to make in the months ahead: which one of the nine colleges she was accepted to will be her destination for the next four years.

Liang, a senior at North Brunswick Township High School, said she is leaning most toward the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and Stanford University, though she won’t make her final decision until next month. Most of her choices are Ivy League schools.

“There’s a lot of factors. I’m lucky to have been in a warm, supportive community [in high school]. The teachers, my friends and my parents have all helped me throughout the years and made me a better person, and someone who wants to better the world,” she said.

Cynthia currently has a 4.2 GPA on a 4.0 unweighted scale, and a 4.7 GPA on a 4.0 weighted scale. The school has not determined its valedictorian for graduation, but Cynthia is currently No. 1 in her class rank.

She received an SAT score of 2350 and an SAT II score of 800 in math and 800 in biology. For her Advanced Placement tests, she scored seven 5s and one 4.

Cynthia won a silver medal in writing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Competition as a sophomore. She won four gold and seven silver keys starting in grade eight. She also received one gold and two silver keys in drawing.

In the North Jersey Regional Science Fair, she placed first in bioinformatics and second in human genetics as a junior.

As a sophomore, she placed first in New Jersey in the 3rd Annual Chinese Essay Youth Contest.

She has been president and secretary for the Future Business Leaders of America at the high school, being named a two-time regional winner in her sophomore and junior years.

She is a member of Key Club, serving as co-president, treasurer and secretary. She is a two-time first place winner in the Key Club’s Non-Digital Poster Design Contest, and organized a carnival that raised more than $3,000 for the N.J. Federation of Food Banks.

Cynthia is also a National Merit finalist, a National AP Scholar, a National Honor Society member and a John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth member since seventh grade.

“I’m not a genius, I’m not a math whiz who can do equations in my head,” she said. “I think I live a very balanced life and I love the things I do.”

Cynthia volunteered at Rutgers University during the summers before 11th and 12th grades doing research on bioinformatics on Tourette syndrome. This has inspired her to study bioinformatics in college, which is the combination of computer science and biology.

“[It] has so much potential in the future,” she said, in terms of next generation DNA sequencing and data analysis for the treatment and prevention of disease.

Her research was sparked by her role as a junior reporter for The China Press since seventh grade. Of the more than 20 articles she published in Chinese, her favorite was when she volunteered to write about a Tourette’s retreat at the Camp Bernie YMCA.

“It’s something that really struck me. These are kids dealing with diversity who I didn’t have much experience with,” she said.

Expanding upon her writing skills, Cynthia is also an editor for the Huaxia-Edison Chinese School column. She also teaches elderly Chinese immigrants how to speak English while she is at the school. Thus, she received the school’s Outstanding Volunteer Award from grades 9-11.

To keep her mind and body active, Cynthia also is a four-year member of the school’s volleyball team. She served as co-captain during her duration. In the off-season, she has played for the Helios private club and the Huaxia-East Brunswick Chinese School Club.

“It’s a good way for me to stay healthy and not sit at a computer for five hours straight,” she said, adding that the thrill and excitement of the game make her happy.

In addition, Cynthia has artistic abilities. She is a classically trained vocal soloist, winning the grand prize, three-year award for the Talented Young Musicians Competition, performing at Carnegie Hall in her freshman through junior years.

She also was a Doodle for Google finalist in fifth grade.

“It’s very unusual to have someone who is so artistic and so academically strong as well,” said Ramona Coleman-Cruz, Cynthia’s guidance counselor. “She’s got the whole brain working.”

Cynthia said the most challenging part about applying to college was not the resume portion, but instead choosing what to write about for her essays. Writing prompts included why she wanted to attend a specific college, what she would write to her future roommate, and what she is most passionate about.

“I do a lot of things and I really do love a lot of things,” she said. “When writing an essay, I try to encapsulate who I am and what I identify with.”

Cynthia said she has no regrets, saying that all of her hard work has been worth it because she lived life exactly the way she wanted to. She said that was an innate characteristic she had as a child: an inquisitive nature, frequently experimenting around the house.

“At the end of the day it’s knowing I’ve done something to help others and to see other people with smiles on their faces,” she said. “All the choices I’ve made are things I really wanted to do. … No one forced me into it. … Everything I do is a part of myself and taking something away is like taking a little bit away from my identity.”

Coleman-Cruz concurred with Cynthia’s self-analysis.

“She is very multi-dimensional. She’s good at so many things,” she said. “She loves to learn and is passionate about seeking answers to unanswered questions.”

Yet despite all of her success, Cynthia said that not everything has gone perfectly and that she copes by simply accepting life.

“When you do something, it’s over. You can’t change it by being sad. You find other ways to move forward,” she said.

“She works hard and whatever the result is, she accepts it,” Coleman-Cruz added, “and if she’s not happy with it, she will rise to the occasion until she is happy with it.”

Therefore, Cynthia said she advises other students to pursue their dreams instead of doing too many activities at once.

“Stick to your passion and don’t give up,” she said. “Don’t stress too much. Honestly, stressing too much doesn’t help.”

Cynthia is expected to make her decision after she completes her college visits this month.

Contact Jennifer Amato at

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