Dragon Award winner's strong start in SCIS

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Carnie Lewis was a Dragon Renaissance winner for two years during her time at Shanghai Community International School. She took some time to share advice for entering university.
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Carnie Lewis was a Dragon Renaissance winner for two years in a row during her time at Shanghai Community International School so it was only natural for Lewis to go on to win the prestigious Renaissance Scholar Award at University of Southern California. She took some time out of her busy day to share some advice for students entering university. 

Carnie Lewis has been nominated for the Renaissance Scholar Award at USC.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from, where did you grow up?

A: I am originally from Perth, Australia but I moved to Ulsan, South Korea, in 2002 and then Shanghai, in 2006. I moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to start at the University of Southern California.

Q: How long did you stay at SCIS?

A: I spent seven years at SCIS Hongqiao, from 2006 to graduation in 2013.

Q: What are you up to now?

A: Right now, I’m in my fourth year at the University of Southern California. I’m in a progressive degree so I’m graduating in May 2018 with my Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy, with a minor in International Relations, and then I have one more year before I graduate with my Master’s in Occupational Therapy. Then, I’ll probably stay in LA for another couple of years to either do the Occupational Therapy doctorate or to gain some more work experience.

Q: Congrats on being nominated for the Renaissance Scholar Award, how does it feel to achieve this?

A: It’s an incredible feeling! The Renaissance Scholar Award is given to 10 graduating USC seniors who have majors and minors in diverse fields and who attain a high level of academic achievement. I knew that I wanted to win this award before even arriving at USC. I worked so hard for four years so it’s great to feel like all that work finally paid off. It’s funny because I was actually a Dragon Renaissance winner for two years in a row (2012 and 2013) at SCIS due to my achievement in academics, sports, and community service, so I feel that this award was just a progression of what I already achieved in Shanghai.

Q: What does it take to be nominated? Any advice to people seeking similar recognition?

A: As I mentioned, it takes a lot of hard work. I had to work to achieve really high grades and I had to be ambitious to take on larger than normal course loads and reach out to professors for letters of recommendation. A little advice to students about to enter university: Get to know your professors. Utilize office hours, ask questions that reflect your interests, look for volunteer or research opportunities that connect with your passions, and work to maintain those relationships. University professors want to help you and they will be invaluable when you are applying for awards, scholarships or jobs. Also, learn what you love and do what you love. You’ll find it so much easier to achieve those high grades when you love the classes that you take. 

Q: How well prepared did you feel coming from SCIS?

A: I felt very prepared coming from SCIS and the IB Diploma. I already knew how to study in a manner that fitted my learning style and balance a full and diverse course load.

Q: Most memorable moment about your time at SCIS? And in China in general?

A: My most memorable moment at SCIS was actually at one of our China trips. We were walking along a rice paddy in the middle of Guizhou, and I remember thinking how amazing it was that I could travel to this part of China with all my friends and truly experience the culture of that community.

Sometimes we get stuck in our “international bubble” and it’s good to be thrown into somewhere more isolated so that we can grow, understand others better, and appreciate more what we have. 

My favorite experience in China in general was definitely Chinese New Year. My first Chinese New Year in Shanghai, in 2007, was absolutely incredible.

This was before the government increased the regulation of fireworks, and so every single night was like a theatrical performance of light. I would sit on the balcony of my town house all night and have a 180-degree view of fireworks against the Shanghai skyline. It was absolutely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.

Q: Lastly, cheeky question: if you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

A: I would want to be able to fly! That way, I could travel more easily.


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