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Once, Always | Golden Dragon, Cindy Chen Earns Perfect 45 in the IB Exam

​Shin (Cindy) Chen earned a perfect score in the International Baccalaureate program, making her the third student in SCIS history to have done so. In scoring an incredible 45 out of 45 Cindy joins the top .21% of all IB students that sat the exam in May 2020. As a golden dragon, Cindy has proudly called SCIS home since joining us in 2006 starting in pre-kindergarten. Now, 14 years on since her first day of school, she will be making her way to her dream school, the University of Cambridge.

Welcome to Once, Always,  a series celebrating the wonderful stories from former students, parents, and staff that all share something in common - their time at SCIS.  #OnceADragonAlwaysADragon

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I’m a curious, happy-go-lucky kind of person and my motto is “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”


Looking back, what were some of your fondest memories from your time with us?
I’ve been at SCIS for almost my entire academic life, so it’s home to me, and where I’ve had so many memorable and fond “firsts.” SCIS is where I learned to read, to write, to draw, to play guitar. It's where I learned to swim and eventually win my first ever competition. SCIS is where I made my first profit selling nail polish on my 4th grade market day and decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur one day. SCIS is where I had my first fight, attended my first middle school dance, participated in my first Water House game (Dodgeball), applied for my first internship, led my first club (Interact), and hosted my first community event (Heart of Stars). Lastly, SCIS is where I got to meet the most incredible people I've ever known, and I am going to miss it so much.

What does SCIS mean to you?
When you look at SCIS from the outside, it’s just a school. A couple of buildings with a nice soccer field, some pretty flowers, and a brick courtyard. To me though, I will always think of it as somewhere I’ve experienced, laughed, cried, succeeded, failed, and learned a lot. There’s a saying, “home is where the heart is.” That’s what SCIS is to me: Home.

How has growing up internationally influenced your life?
Growing up internationally definitely allowed me to experience a cool facet of Shanghai living. It’s amazing to meet people from all over the world and it becomes easy to immerse yourself in different cultures and environments. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to learn about Christmas and Easter, holidays that aren’t necessarily celebrated in Taiwan but have also become a part of who I am. I think we each bring something special to the international community and in turn, we learn from each other.

In earning a perfect 45 on the IB exam you’ve become the third-ever student at SCIS to achieve this feat, what was your reaction after seeing your results?
I was so nervous before seeing my results because my university offer was conditional. It felt like my entire future depended on it. My family and I opened my results at an ice cream store, and when I saw them I couldn’t believe it! It was so relieving because I could attend my dream school after all. It was validating because it felt like such a happy ending to two long hard years. I was so happy I jumped up and cheered. Also, I got free ice cream!

Who would you like to credit with helping you achieve this amazing feat?
I couldn’t have done this without the amazing teachers, counselors, faculty, and coaches over the years. If I listed them all this page would be too full but thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement. And most definitely to my family; my mom for being there for me every step of the way, my dad for always encouraging me to dream big, and my brother Eric for being my role model always.

What's next for you?
I'll be attending the University of Cambridge.

Congratulations! How do you feel about going there?
I’m getting more and more excited as it approaches! Now that it’s real, I’m looking forward to exploring a new place and experiencing hundred-year old school traditions. I’m looking forward to new friends, living in a castle, and punting on the Cambridge river. Also, I'm looking forward to trying out the many cool clubs there such as UNICEF Cambridge, water polo, the Harry Potter club, salsa dancing club. Maybe even trying beginner’s rowing? On the other hand, I’m nervous because I’ve never even been to England so I’m not familiar with the culture there. I’m also a little sad because I’m going to miss my family and friends so much.

How was the college application process?
To be honest, at first, it was pretty terrible. I’m a super indecisive person and didn’t have a clear direction of what I wanted. I didn’t have a definite college list or have a specific continent in mind. I didn’t do my essays until the last minute, and every time I did research I ended up more confused and stressed. What’s special about my progress is that I sort of figured out and discovered what I wanted along the way, as opposed to some of my friends who knew right off the bat what they wanted. I’m so grateful to Mr. Beard because he gave me a lot of advice on how to narrow down my search and prioritize things I’m looking for in a school. Once I had a definite school list, the essay was pretty simple to write because I had brainstormed some story ideas over the summer.

What do you plan to study?
I’m going to be studying Psychological and Behavioral Sciences. As of right now, I hope to become a psychiatrist and join Doctors Without Borders to bring mental healthcare to victims of conflict. I think this major is pretty broad and applicable to so many other fields that I’m interested in.

Lastly, do you have any advice for the SCIS class of 2021?
This is a super big list of everything I could think of or WISH I had done:

  • If you don’t understand something right now in class figure it out before your actual exam so it doesn’t accumulate.
  • Take advantage of your amazing teachers and college counselor.
  • Participate in clubs or sports and try to get a leadership role, they not only look good on university applications but you get to learn a lot and it helps with stress.
  • Speaking of stress, if you are feeling sad or unmotivated, find someone to talk to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
  • Try to prioritize your time and make a weekly to-do list, and keep track of the big deadlines.
  • Finally, this sounds cliché but please try and appreciate your family more! One day you will be leaving for university and you will be glad you spent more time with them.


SCIS. Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon.

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