Class of 2024's Ellie K: Artistic Excellence from DCB to Brown University

Zechariah C
DCB Year 10 student

While many of her peers were confined to virtual classrooms in 2021, Ellie K was already making the most of her time, nurturing her passion for art history through visits to art galleries in Beijing. Her work focuses on reimagining the seminal block prints of the Japanese artist Hiroshige through a Sinocentric lens, uncovering the indifference and stark loneliness beneath Beijing’s bustling exterior. This dedication to her craft has earned Ellie a spot at the prestigious Brown University, with a mere 5.2% admission rate, its third lowest in its history.

Ellie helping out at the art stall during Founders Day Ellie helping out at the art stall during Founders Day

What does it take to turn a fledgling artistic interest into an academic career? In this installation, we invited the former Art Prefect to share more about her journey from DCB to Art History at Brown University, what she’ll miss, and some advice to those applying for university.

Class of 2024 Graduation Day photoshoot at the Temple of Heaven Class of 2024 Graduation Day photoshoot at the Temple of Heaven

How a small wave grew into a massive tide:

To some, The Great Kanagawa Wave might simply be an iconic piece of Japanese art, but for Ellie, it was the spark that ignited her passion for art history. Following her initial visit to an art gallery with a print of the Kanagawa Wave, she joined summer research programs like Pioneer Academics online and Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, rounding it off with a personal research project, writing up a research paper and conducting sketches where she explored the theme of ‘urban alienation’ as viewed through Utagawa Hiroshige’s One Hundred Famous Views of Edo.

“All my hobbies and interests contribute to my artistic sensibility and include a special appreciation and sensitivity to art, ranging from visual art and Latin dancing to drumming and choir.”

Click here to find more of her works.

Hokusai Great wave at Kanagawa Hokusai Great wave at Kanagawa
Cover of Ellie’s illustration book “Cup of Life” Cover of Ellie’s illustration book “Cup of Life”

The Holistic Learning Experience at DCB: Clubs and ECAs

Apart from her academic achievements in Art, Ellie has also positively contributed to our school’s music and sports community: being the main setter for the girls’ volleyball team, enjoying a long and distinguished tenure as the president of the choir, and performing drumming and Latin dancing for school events as well. 

Ellie fondly reminisced about her unforgettable experience at the ACAMIS volleyball competition in Hong Kong. It was a momentous occasion as she transitioned from being a substitute to becoming the main setter for their team. “I’ll always remember how much fun I had in that ACAMIS tournament, going to Hong Kong, celebrating the 3 birthdays that happened to be on those days, going on a yacht with an old DCB family, to going home on the bus winning a sing-off with the other schools. Sports truly connects people in a way nothing else does.”

“Volleyball has helped me unlock and understand true teamwork and collaboration, understanding a true fighting team spirit. Choir taught me how to work together with a community to create beautiful melodies. It is also through these experiences that I have built and connected with so many more people than I would normally get the chance to, to truly stand on the court with my DCB kit and be proud of my team and school.”

Varsity volleyball team 2023 Varsity volleyball team 2023
Ellie conducting a piece during the Spring Music Showcase 2023 Ellie conducting a piece during the Spring Music Showcase 2023
Ellie competing in a drums competition Ellie competing in a drums competition

Why go to Brown?

Located in close proximity to RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and places like New York and Boston, Brown University is known for its open curriculum, its interdisciplinary approach to the arts and boasts a distinguished faculty dedicated to nurturing their artistic talents.

The College has also expanded its art spaces thanks to the funding from renowned art collector Ron Perelman. The result is a myriad of visible art spaces across the campus for art practitioners now known as the Perelman Art District, greatly enhancing the general artistic atmosphere and community around Brown. "The area has a very strong artistic community, to which I feel I will be able to merge into and flourish.” 


Planning for University

Undergoing the extensive self-reflection and thinking required of applying to a US college can be a gruelling experience. Ellie edited her personal statement over 20 times, going so far as to completely rewriting it three times due to its pivotal importance in a college application – a sense of perfection and attention to detail worthy of the meticulous artist she is.

Ellie also found many difficulties with the SAT: a lack of learning resources, accessibility issues on its digital interface and burnout repeatedly led to unsatisfying scores, but she ultimately persevered.

“Application season and the IB journey was tough, but it's surviving and passing the obstacles that make you a stronger person ready to face harder issues in the future,” commented Ellie. “So, believe in yourself and enjoy the process. The journey and the process of waiting until March to start receiving offers was quite a roller-coaster ride, especially with IB and studies piled on top. The whole university application process involves a lot of luck and uncontrollable factors, so keep an open mind, and try to stay positive – easier said than done!”

Ellie with friends at the Temple of Heaven photoshoot Ellie with friends at the Temple of Heaven photoshoot

Advice for new students starting Senior school:

It can be quite daunting for Year 6 students going on to Year 7 to respond to the increase in workload and responsibility for their own learning; it’s not easy for any student, which is why we asked Ellie for her thoughts on what Chinese parents might call a 分水岭 (fen shui ling), or a pivotal test that separates the wheat from the chaff.

“I think the first step is to try and explore your interests and don’t be afraid to try all the different activities DCB provides. It is through these preliminary explorations that you’ll eventually find and understand what truly interests you (like me, art and dance are all things that I have started since a very young age and have continued to do all the way, with 8-10 years of experience). And make sure you don’t give up and try to continue these skills and hobbies that you develop.

Winning an award at the Music and Drama Awards 2023 Winning an award at the Music and Drama Awards 2023
Ellie explaining her IB visual art exhibition during the exhibition opening Ellie explaining her IB visual art exhibition during the exhibition opening

Messages of Gratitude:

Finally, Ellie extends her gratitude to all her subject teachers, university counsellors and countless mentors who have helped her along the way:

“I’d like to thank Ms. Pichery for being such a supportive, kind and heart-warming head of year for us for the past 2 years, truly serving as a loving motherly figure for all of us.”

“I’d also like to thank my friends and classmates for making the arduous IB journey seemingly not as bad as it may seem, as well as my dedicated teachers Ms McCaw, Ms O’Rourke, Ms Zhao, Ms Lee, Mr Todd, and Ms Tomaszun and others, for being truly incredible figures.”

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