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Beyond Graduation | Returning to your Roots

Denali Caban (SCIS Pudong '21) has received early acceptance offers from five universities in her home state of Florida, the United States. A globetrotter since the age of five, Denali has moved regularly, living in four different countries and five different cities around the world. This year marks her fifth year in Shanghai and at SCIS, the longest she's been in one place. Although now faced with the tough decision of narrowing down her choices, the senior is looking forward to going back to the start and returning to her roots.

Welcome to Beyond Graduation, our series where we celebrate just a few stories from the Class of 2021.

Black and white portrait of Denali Caban


Looking at your acceptances, it’s safe to say Florida is where you want to study. Can you explain to us why that is?

I was about five years old when I left Florida to move overseas, but most of my extended family is located in Florida, so every summer we would go back, it’s ‘home’ for the most part. I want to live there and take the time to get to know the place I was born and grew up in. Also, the high-level education provided at universities in Florida and in-state tuition are other reasons for me going back.

Denali (sitting down) with the 2020 SCIS Pudong Varsity Girls Volleyball Team.


Have you narrowed it down to one university yet?

Not yet. I have crossed two off the list completely but I am still really trying to juggle with the other two. My choices now are the University of South Florida (USF) and Florida International University (FIU). It’s hard because not only do you have to consider the environment and location, but I also really take into consideration the courses that are provided and available in each of the different universities to see what fits most with what I want to do. 



And what about your intended major?

I am currently planning to major in Political Science, with a possible minor in international relations or a language. I am very much interested in staying involved in the international world even if I am not moving for a while. I like the idea of knowing how countries interact on all levels, political, law, security, etc. 

Can you walk us through the university application process? What was it like?

The application process was not too hard in all honesty. I was lucky enough to apply for five of the six universities I wanted to go to using Common Application. You fill out a general application and answer specific school-based questions, then send everything off once. It was helpful to be able to have Ms. Kelly, our school counselor, available with dedicated time during our senior retreat to help with essays or questions.

The hardest part for me was writing the essay. You have to sell yourself without sounding too arrogant. You want to give a lot of detail but are restricted by a word limit. I think I wrote and fixed it about 3-4 times, eventually, I just had to be okay and let it go. 


What advice do you have for SCIS students who are starting the search for their future university?

I would say, just apply. I applied to two universities that I wasn’t sure I would get accepted and ended up being accepted to one, a selective one at that. You never know what a university is truly looking for. If you are not sure it’s okay, you don’t have to know already what it is you want to do, you don’t have to be sure of where you want to go. Apply to all the schools you might think you are interested in attending and would be happy at. If you need help ask if you have questions, ask. It’s a big step and it’s going to bring so many emotions, mostly happy ones, so don’t stress too much. In the end, everything works out.  

Denali Caban performing handstand on glass bridge


Congratulations on your Early Acceptances, Denali!

SCIS. Beyond Graduation.

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