April 1, 2024

From Brazil to the United States: My Story to Haverford College

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Joao Victor from Brazil 🇧🇷

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From Brazil to the United States: My Story to Haverford College

Growing up in Brazil and my background

Hi everyone, my name is João and I’m from Brazil. Welcome to my story!

I grew up in an underprivileged background, so I started my studies at a public school in my city; however, later on, I got into a tiny private school with a full scholarship and stayed until I graduated. It was my passion for learning and ambition to taste new experiences that drove me to apply to that school and enjoy its many extracurricular activities and traditional yet holistic curriculum.

Based on that, you may bet that I was not a conformist kid, and getting to that private school was not my only goal. When I was almost 15, I drew the dream of studying abroad, a process that would change my life completely. 

I chose the United States due to the generosity of its universities regarding financial aid. Nowadays I’m beyond proud to say that I got a full-ride to study at Haverford College.

Why Haverford

Here comes the answer to the most common and interesting question in the whole application process: Why Haverford?

Let me start by stating that choosing my Early Decision was not an easy thing to do. I was among Vanderbilt, Dartmouth, Grinnell, and Haverford; however, the competition was won by Haverford due to its amazing financial support, a factor that was very important to me! They do not only pay for all my needs but also offer so much support to low-income students; for instance, my financial aid package accompanies me if I decide to do a Haverford study abroad program and they also create many job opportunities.

Moreover, another factor I prioritized was a college near a huge city, so Philadelphia being so close to Haverford made it earn more points (this was after I overcame my obsession with Boston haha).

On the curriculum part, I really wanted a liberal arts college with a strong community and my fields of study very well developed. During my research, I found out how strong Haverford’s community was and that political science, Latin-American studies, and education are strong fields at the college.

On the other hand, it’s important to recognize that 53% of the student body participates in varsity or club sports, and since I am into handball and volleyball (my Brazilian heart has a soft spot for football as well) I felt pretty comfortable about Haverford.

Finally but no less importantly, a thing that incredibly inclined me to my current college was the social media content of a Brazilian friend, Damião,  who’s studying there. He always shares the day-to-day life, the support they give, and the trips he’s made thanks to the university. That was what finally set my mind on Haverford.

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My stats

English is not my first language and it is not a strong course in the Brazilian curriculum; therefore, the English that I know has been learned on my own. I used to watch YouTube videos and play a video game called “Overwatch” to learn the language. I also read and wrote a lot until after 6 years I slowly became fluent in English. I took the TOEFL and scored 106 and also the Duolingo English Test in which I scored 150, so it was the second one I submitted. Moreover, I took the ACT and got a 31 yet I didn’t send it because Haverford is test-optional and I didn’t find my score super outstanding.

Extracurricular activities

The moment has arrived! I will present to you my top 3 extracurricular activities from what I feel pretty proud about.

My first activity is called “Pastoral Juvenil Marista”, part of the Marist group, a group of education schools around the world. I started this volunteering in 2021 with other six people, and after rebuilding the whole project, we achieved over 100 volunteers by April 2022. I was one of the lead coordinators who rebuilt the group and also helped the volunteers to do many projects. For instance, we did fundraising and ecological projects for a local community called Villa Torres, an underprivileged favela in my city. Also, we researched a very polluted river that goes through the community. 

Secondly, I played varsity handball and varsity volleyball in my school, which got my team and me in a national competition where we did pretty well at handball.

Finally, another of my extracurriculars was tutoring. I taught history and current affairs to some public school students and did some current affairs lectures in my school in 2022. I also prepared some students for the entrance Brazilian exam, in that way showing my strong academic profile.

My essays

I spent a great amount of time trying to find the perfect topic to write a narrative essay; however, at the end of the day, I couldn’t feel convinced by any of my ideas, so I decided to write a montage essay.

I wrote about everything I learned while being raised just by my mother. For each paragraph, I narrated a different short story that illustrated how her values and actions shaped who I am today and created many of my passions. I pictured how she inspired my compassion, curiosity, political interests, and resilience against hardships. It wasn’t an easy or comfortable thing to write; however, I think that’s what makes a good personal statement: Showing vulnerability and persistence.

Regarding supplemental essays, there were two I had to write for Haverford. The first one asked about one intellectual curiosity and how I wanted to explore that in college. So I started this essay by introducing a facade of my city, Curitiba, also known as the green and equal city in Brazil. I showed how growing up in an underprivileged Afro-Brazilian neighborhood destroyed that facade entirely since I always had to struggle and go to white neighborhoods to access an education of quality. I focused on Curitiba’s present inequality as a result of centuries of decisions that could be changed, that I desired to change; therefore, I linked my city’s main issues with particular classes and programs that Haverford offers and focused on Latin American studies and how they were going to help me to improve my city.

On the other hand, the second supplemental essay asked me to connect my values with the college’s values. For this, I connected my humanitarian work and political action demonstrated in my volunteering, fundraising campaign, and activism with Haverford’s strong self-reliance, which means that students are responsible for their actions and honor code. I highlighted how I wanted to keep this self-governance and ability to impact in college.

Time and resources

I started to know the process of application in 2020 and engaged in some extracurriculars in 2021. Then, in 2022 I focused on my application process in addition to high school (which was complex to handle). During that year, I participated in Opportunity Funds, a program by Education USA that helps and gives counseling to low-income Brazilian students to apply to universities in the United States. Nevertheless, the outcome wasn’t as I wished, so I decided to take a gap year and apply to college in 2023.

By that time I had already taken my standardized tests, so I focused on improving my extracurriculars and writing skills. I must thank the University Placement program offered by LALA (Latin American Leadership Academy) since it was the only resource that helped me with my application during the whole year. Marco, my mentor, helped greatly and the program paid for everything! I wanted to highlight that the applications for the program are open, so you should give it a try! 

I’m really grateful and proud; at the end of the day, I achieved my dream.

Until Haverford

I am starting college in September, so I still have some months left. During this time, I’m fundraising money to pay for my VISA processing and flight tickets. If you, the reader could help me by donating or promoting, you’d get me one step closer to my dream! My PayPal is joaovitorhasse@gmail.com and more information can be found on this post: https://www.instagram.com/p/C1na7_Wr_1c/

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Joao Victor
from Brazil 🇧🇷

Duration of Study

Sep 2024 — May 2028


Political science, Latin American studies and Education

Learn more ->
Haverford College

Haverford College

Haverford, US🇺🇸


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Abril from Peru 🇵🇪

Gap year student interested in politics

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