By Celine Macura
As college admissions officers flip through applications at a large desk in Cornell University’s main administrative building, one application sits at the bottom of the pile waiting to be opened, waiting to display its applicant’s competitive edge. In a highly selective school, the board is no stranger to hard-earned grades, extensive club participation, and rigorous classes. What does turn heads, however, is an exceptional student who offers an interesting and three-dimensional application. An application that, when opened, invites a second glance. An application that looks much like senior Vera Lin’s.
It wasn’t the first time that Cornell had seen Lin’s name, and it certainly wasn’t the last. To get to where she is today, Lin had to act as her own spokesperson. Lin said, “I introduced myself to a few coaches at the end of my junior year. Around April or May, I sent a bunch of emails out to coaches.” This soon created what would become a flowing communication and growing relationship between Lin and Cornell’s coach. The coaches continued to watch videos of Lin’s fencing to gauge her athleticism in hopes of potentially filling a vacant spot on their team. When she contacted the fencing coach about committing to Cornell, Lin was asked to send in her academic application as well as her fencing resume. Her application then went through a pre-scan, a process in which schools evaluate grades and weigh the possibility of acceptance pending a drop in grades. They approved her academics, and Cornell’s head fencing coach subsequently encouraged Lin to apply.
Confident with the reassurance from her coach and family, Lin patiently waited as the admissions board scanned her application, and the reality of fencing for the next four years started to take form. A verbal agreement from Cornell’s coach only went so far, but a likely letter, a letter intending to recruit promising athletes, would indicate a high possibility of her acceptance to Cornell. As the November winds picked up, a letter flew into Lin’s mailbox, securing her position on the team next year. Her likely letter indicated that Lin would earn a spot on the team and a spot on the roster for Cornell’s Class of 2020.
Lin was first introduced to fencing in fourth grade when her mother was informed of fencing lessons at the Great Neck Arts Center. Of her first encounter with fencing, Lin said, “It was just for fun; I had no idea what I was doing.” This interest was short-lived, however, and Lin stopped fencing after a few months, but as ninth grade rolled around, Lin’s interest in fencing reignited when she tried out for the high school team. As a freshman, Lin showed a lot of potential, improving through practice. Now years later, Lin proves the importance of dedication as she has placed first in two county individual championships and third in another.
Lin’s dedication to the sport is as evident as her talent. She practices three to four times a week for two hours during each session and even more during the winter: “During the season, I usually do one or two hours at school every day, and then I do around one or two hours at my club in Great Neck.”
South’s varsity fencing coach Joshua Baravarian recognizes Lin’s talent and dedication. “Vera has become more confident in her abilities since her freshman year. She has amassed a record of 100 wins and nine losses, six of those [losses] in her freshman year,” he said. Such an impressive record scored her the position of team captain for the 2015-2016 season.
Lin recently placed third in the 2016 individual county championships, further proving her success in the sport. Since her commitment to college fencing ensures Lin four more years of competition, she is finally seeing her dreams come true and her fencing career materialize before her eyes. Lin is excited to bring her passion to the collegiate level as one of Cornell’s prestigious athletes.