Meet Class of 2024 Aidan S: A Journey from DUCKS to DUKE

Dulwich College Beijing

This article is part of a series featuring our outgoing Year 13 students, sharing their experiences at DCB and offering advice to younger generations.

Aidan during the debate at the 2023 Worldwise Academy Aidan during the debate at the 2023 Worldwise Academy

From a shy newcomer to a leading role on stage, Aidan S's journey at Dulwich College Beijing is a testament to the transformative power of seizing opportunities.

Head Boy Aidan S and Head Girl Eudora Y host AY 2022-23's Founder’s Day Head Boy Aidan S and Head Girl Eudora Y host AY 2022-23's Founder’s Day

Aidan S joined Dulwich College Beijing during the final year of DUCKS (called Early Years back then) at the original Riviera campus. Initially shy, he faced increased uncertainty upon transitioning to the larger Legends campus for Junior School.

However, Aidan's journey took a transformative turn when his Classroom Teacher cast him as the Fantastic Mr Fox in the Year 3 play, igniting his passion for theatre. "Since then, I’ve loved participating in productions," Aidan recalls, cherishing this defining moment of his childhood at DCB. Now in his 11th and final year at Dulwich College Beijing, Aidan S stands among the 1,984 students admitted to Duke University, with a record-low 4.1% acceptance rate for Regular Decision for the Class of 2028. In this piece, we share more about Aidan S, last academic year's Head Boy, Service Leader and Head of the Interact Club, and some of his insights into his life at DCB and his advice for our younger students and their future journey to university.

Class of 2024 Graduation Day photoshoot at the Temple of Heaven, 11 April 2024 Class of 2024 Graduation Day photoshoot at the Temple of Heaven, 11 April 2024

A Love for Learning: A Busy Life at DCB

During our interview, Aidan had just come from a trip leading younger students on a residential trip to rural Guizhou – our students’ first service trip there. As part of our commitment to raising global citizens, the school organises residential trips such as this to connect our students to increase social awareness and understanding of the wider local communities of our students.

“I’ve been very passionate about community service since Year 10,” Aidan admitted, adding how this trip has now become one of his happiest moments. “During the trip, one morning at 7am, I was still in bed when I opened my phone and saw that I had just been accepted into Duke University. With my friend Aaron next to me, I screamed for maybe 5 minutes before finally going downstairs for breakfast where I shared the good news and received so many hugs – this was such a perfect combination and one of the happiest moments of my life.”  

Playing with local kids in rural Guizhou Playing with local kids in rural Guizhou

DCB offers students numerous opportunities across the campus that allow them to pursue their passions and encourage them to have a wide range of interests. Aside from theatre and community service, Aidan also has a deep love for history, fostered by dedicated teachers like his History teacher Ms Catherine McCaw, who facilitated engaging discussions and debates. “I’ve always been passionate about history and have been privileged enough to travel around the world like with my parents and visit museums and historical sites. When I took history as a subject, Ms McCaw taught us to look at how different historians from around the world can have different “objective” views on the same event.” 

A Year 8 Aidan in the play Haroun and the Sea of Stories A Year 8 Aidan in the play Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Learning Beyond the “Bubble” 

“Community service isn’t just about helping others; it’s also about understanding and building relationships and inspiring a leadership mindset,” Aidan shared, crediting his journey to his longtime teacher Ms Tomaszun. “Helping others isn’t about providing what we think they need, but really understanding them, developing that relationship to provide what they really do need.

Aidan has participated in numerous service activities and trips during his time at DCB, including volunteering as a tour guide at the Beijing Capital Museum and even in his hometown’s local museum, and supporting the recent trip to residential trip to Guizhou that he and the students spent months preparing for. Upon arrival, however, students were initially hesitant to interact but eventually let go of their reservations and began playing with the excited children and the community.  

Aidan and other Universal Accessibility members raising funds for a local orphanage Aidan and other Universal Accessibility members raising funds for a local orphanage
Christmas Bazaar 2023-2024 Christmas Bazaar 2023-2024

Transformations like this inspire Aidan, and he hopes to continue this in university.

“DCB isn’t just welcoming; we have teachers who know what we need. In Year 3, I was really shy but the teacher wanted to give me an opportunity even though I probably wasn’t the best for it. I wasn’t really the leader type up until I got the lead role in our play in Year 8, an opportunity given to me not because I was the best at it, but because it was something I needed. Teachers here gave us so many opportunities to try, and so moving into Year 10, 11 and 12, I started becoming more active and a student leader to give back and create opportunities for other people.” 


Preparing for Life Beyond DCB

Looking forward to Duke University, Aidan values the location, the vibrant student life and robust service programmes, which tells him that he can continue his passions outside of academics. He has been prepared for this transition since Year 11, starting off by listing down schools and narrowing them down as he narrowed down his interests, guided by dedicated college counsellors who encouraged proactive university planning. Aidan's advice to younger students is clear: "Explore everything, take risks, and follow your passions," emphasizing the importance of self-discovery and perseverance.

“DCB has so much to offer; take advantage of that. Participate as much as you can, and learn enough that you’ll be brave enough to take initiative and create new projects. That’s how you prepare for university.”

Music and Drama Award 2023 Music and Drama Award 2023

Explore everything, take risks, and know that your friends have your back 

When asked what he’ll miss the most about DCB, Aidan instantly said, “my DCB community,” and the profound relationships he has formed.

During stressful times, such as waiting for the university results, Aidan turned to his friends for emotional support. “What helped me the most was socialising with friends, and we went out a lot – hiking, going outdoors, sports, and just chatting with them.” 

First day of AY 2023-2024 First day of AY 2023-2024
Pink Week 2022-2023, organised by Interact Pink Week 2022-2023, organised by Interact

He also thanks Ms Tomaszun for being supportive throughout his entire journey. “I didn’t realise it initially, but when I look back on my Years 7 to 13, I realised she supported me a lot.”

To the younger students still on their university journey, Aidan reminds them to be courageous. “Take risks, and be okay with the fact that not everything’s going to work your way. But if you push through, you’ll find something that you enjoy. Find out what you’re passionate about, and just continue with that passion, no matter what people say.