Meet Arleen Saini! She loves books, hanging out with friends, trying new foods (Greek dishes are her favourite), and watching niche documentaries. Arleen also happens to be going to HARVARD this fall!! Let’s take a deeper look at the hard work and determination it took Arleen to get her to where she is today.

Throughout her high school career, Arleen immersed herself in many diverse extracurriculars, from athletics to student council. She also worked diligently as an employee for her local public health unit, where she was given the opportunity to advocate for healthier lifestyles for youth in the area. Arleen got to work on building campaigns and community outreach, which sparked a passion for volunteering that she hopes will continue throughout her years at university.

An avid business scholar, Arleen is fascinated by how businesses can be used as tools for positive social momentum. Her interest in economics was actually piqued while she took a Grade 11 business course in her local high school. Unfortunately, her home school was not able to offer an individual economics course:

“Still, I was confident of the fact that it was a subject I wanted to explore in more depth. So, in my search for an alternative way to study the content and learn more about the economic way of thinking, I discovered VHS!”

In her CIA4U course at Virtual High School, Arleen discovered a new level of confidence in her academic skills. Arleen highlights the invaluable feedback she received from her VHS teacher, Mr. Sommerville, as a driving force behind her success in the course. With the freedom to establish her own due dates and work to meet independent goals, Arleen mastered time management at VHS:

“In taking a course at VHS that is inherently self-paced, I was pushed into setting deadlines and learning how to balance my schedule. It’s undoubtedly a skill that will be useful going forward!”

Arleen cites her parents as her most important role models in life. Residents of Niagara Falls, Ontario for the last 10 years, Arleen’s parents originally immigrated to Canada from small villages in India:

“Starting afresh in a completely foreign country, they’ve had to relentlessly persevere to provide for myself and my siblings. In the future, if I’ve managed to inherit even a fraction of their persistence, I would consider it my greatest achievement.”

As a new Harvard undergraduate student, it is evident that Arleen already does exemplify the very best of her parents’ tenacity and commitment. She plans to concentrate in the areas of government and economics, but her ultimate goal is to attend law school so that she can dedicate herself to justice and equality. Arleen plans to keep an open mind during her next few years while she figures out exactly which facet of the law she would like to practice.

Having never spent long periods of time away from her home, Arleen was admittedly anxious, but excited, for her big move to the United States. She packed in as much time as possible with her friends and family this past summer:

“I would say that throughout my life the one thing that I am immensely proud of is having had the chance to build a robust support system. The people around me, my friends and family, are always there to lift me up and encourage me to dream big (and, of course, are outstanding individuals in their own right)!”

So, if we’ve been paying attention, the recipe for Harvard success involves studying hard, following your passion, getting involved in activities, establishing connections with teachers, and maintaining your support system. We have no doubt that Arleen Saini will continue to use these strategies to amaze her Harvard colleagues and professors the way that she has done with the staff at VHS.