When David Lin found out that he had been accepted at the California Institute of Technology, he wasn’t particularly excited.
“I thought it was just another school,” the recent Santa Monica High School graduate said. “Then my friend’s parents came up to me and made it seem like it was such a big deal. Now I feel like I chose a pretty good school to go to.”
“Pretty good school” drastically understates the prestige of Caltech, a world-renowned private research university in Pasadena that is a bastion of discovery in science and engineering. With fewer than 1,000 undergraduate students on campus each year, it has produced 33 Nobel Laureates and 58 National Medal of Science recipients.
And getting into Caltech is no small feat. More than 6,600 students applied to join last year’s 226-member freshman class, a yield of just 3.4 percent.
For Lin, whose college career will begin in late September, it’s the next chapter of an educational journey that reached another milestone when he was named co-valedictorian at the Samohi commencement ceremony in early June.
Lin started out at the private Brentwood Science Magnet and later enrolled in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district, attending Franklin Elementary and Lincoln Middle schools before going to Samohi.
During high school, Lin played violin in the symphony and chamber orchestras. He was also president of the E-Waste Club, which encouraged proper disposal of electronic waste through outreach and community events.
He said his experiences in both extracurricular activities, which gave him opportunities to meet new people and develop leadership skills, will help him at Caltech.
“If I have to do a group project or run a team,” he said, “I think I’ll be fine.”
As for academics, Lin is planning to study bioengineering. He’s interested in the potential medical applications of specialized 3-D printers.
And his future could involve saving lives. An average of 22 people die each day waiting for organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“I really want to go into this field to find a way to make human organs,” he said. “There’s a huge shortage.”
Lin will eventually consider pursuing a master’s degree, but he also wants to gain experience in the working world.
Lin recently returned from Taiwan, where he spent about a month visiting family and sightseeing. He also got to see his sister, 2009 Samohi graduate Jessica Lin, who is in grad school there.
The freshman-to-be knows that going away to college also means doing laundry, preparing meals and managing his own time. But he’s looking forward to the independence he’ll have at Caltech.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.