Matthew Chen ’16

Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Major: computer science

What is your favorite off-campus activity? Why?

Swimming! But outside of that, probably going to downtown Palo Alto to grab a bite with friends. My favorite restaurants are Crepevine and Rangoon Ruby, and CREAM is always a good place to get some late-night ice cream!

What is your favorite place on campus? Why?

I like to hang out in areas that are relatively quiet, but not too secluded. The first floor of Arrillaga dining hall, or the basement of Gates, or the Oval, for example—I can get work done there, but always bump into friends if I need a study break. If I’m just having fun though, nothing beats Stanford Stadium on a Saturday!

Describe your favorite Admit Weekend experience (either as a ProFro or a current student).

On the second night of my Admit Weekend (as a ProFro) I went fountain hopping with a group at 1a.m., then went to West Campus and played icebreakers until 3 or 4a.m. before falling asleep in the lounge. Words don’t do the experience justice—you don’t really know someone until you’ve interacted with them at 3a.m., and the other Stanford students I met had done so many amazing things—and were so humble about it. It’s easy to forget, but Stanford students have done some pretty cool stuff.

List your top 5 favorite things to do at Stanford.

  1. Decide not to pay for lunch for a week. Enjoy meeting new people while getting free lunch due to all the catered events that happen at Stanford.
  2. Find a lawn—the Oval, or Galvez lawn, or the Toyon or Crothers lawns—and chill. Lie down and take a break and possible catch up on some sleep.
  3. Go to the gym. Double points if you do one of the fun athletic classes, like Zumba!
  4. Take one of the social dance classes. Then go dancing.
  5. Watch a sporting event on TV at the Axe and Palm (more commonly known as TAP). Eat at ‘The Big Game’ while cheering on the Card!

Provide a brief description of the activities you are involved in as an undergraduate at Stanford.

My first year at Stanford, I didn’t know many people outside of my dorm, so I joined a lot of clubs to meet people with my interests. I was in Stanford’s Black Premedical Association, Compass Fellows (a social entrepreneurship group), Stanford’s Society of Black Scientists and Engineers, and Stanford’s Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. This year I’m a staff member in my dorm so I haven’t had much time to be in any clubs, but I love working in Toyon!

Describe the moment you were admitted to Stanford. What were you doing? How did you feel? What was the first thing you did right afterward? Who was the first person you shared the news with?

It was a typical Thursday; I was at a barbershop on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Chattanooga, Tennessee, getting my hair cut. I'd forgotten that Stanford admissions decisions were slated to come out, so I was shocked when I glanced at my phone and saw an email from the admissions office. I didn't want to open the email right then—moving my head with sharp blades nearby seemed to be a risky proposition—so I sat in the chair and waited. I'm pretty sure that haircut took precisely 893 hours.

When I got a chance to peruse the email, seeing my acceptance, I entered a temporary state of shock. I didn't know what to think – I had worked hard in high school, and I knew I was a competitive applicant, but it's Stanford. STANFORD. I never really knew if I was going to get in, and even after getting in I was afraid that it was an accident. I distinctly remember frantically Googling terms like "Stanford admissions email hacked" just to make sure that someone wasn't playing a trick on me.

Eventually, I accepted my acceptance. I called my mom, who cheered wildly. I called my dad, who hadn't really heard of Stanford at that point, but was also happy (and I familiarized him with the Farm very quickly!). I called my brother and sister and my grandparents and some cousins and probably ten members of my family in total. It was great.

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