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Alumni Series - Alan Ren

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

The Alumni Series features testimonials and interviews given by recent graduates of WillowWood School. Our second alumnus featured in this series is Alan Ren. Alan is attending McGill University, where he is studying Economics and Statistics. He has already earned a number of certificates in data analysis (Python, SQL, SAS) as well as his Candian Securities License. Here's what he had to say about his experience at WillowWood.

How did WillowWood help you achieve your goals?

I think what I would say is … studying at Willowwood School made me aware that in any endeavor, there are two crucial ingredients to success: There is the ingredient of inspiration for which we need talent, skill, and ability, to be able to succeed. But there is a second component … and that second ingredient is often underestimated - perspiration - hard work, dedication, application, indefatigability. Never say die, refuse to lose, insist on prevailing in the end.

In real life, we endure many failures. Failure may depress, dispirit, unnerve us, but failure should not be something we need to consider, should not be on our agenda, should not be emerged in one's mind. For instance, I sent out dozens of resumes in the last year, but they all sank like a stone without news. I was extraordinarily apprehensive at that moment, but I did not succumb. I scheduled meetings with Willowwood teachers, to learn and practice interview techniques, and at the end of high school, I earned the first internship offer of my life. At that moment I realized that all my previous efforts were worth it.

How was your English when you first started in Grade 9?

I came to Willowwood in grade 9 to start my studies. I had already done some language training and got a TOEFL score of 86 before I left China to come to Canada. However, this was far from the level that I needed to communicate with native people. So WillowWood School offered me a free six-month ESL English training program. After participating in this program, I feel that my oral expression and writing have improved a lot!

How did teachers at WillowWood help you improve your English language skills?

The teachers at Willowwood have helped me tremendously in improving my English skills through a variety of ways to help me work on my English effectively and efficiently. For instance, they held one-on-one meetings with me and gave me tips and advice on how to modify my essays and optimize my presentations. All of this has given me a completely new perspective on English.

Did you make friends with international students?

Yes, I am a very social person and I have become friends with many international students, not only Chinese but also from other countries such as Korea and Japan. I have enjoyed an unforgettable four years of study with them. It is the diversity of WillowWood's student population that allowed me to make friends with so many international students.

Did you make friends with domestic (Canadian) students?

I met many domestic students when I took some courses and joined clubs. I have made strong friendships with them while working with them in team environments. Everyone was amiable to the international students, which made me become more and more outgoing around domestic students.

How did the teachers help/make you feel during your time at WillowWood?

The teachers tried their utmost to help the students get on the right track. All teachers have a very rigorous attitude towards teaching and do not allow any academic misconduct to occur. In addition, teachers communicate frequently with students to determine their students’ mentality and progress, and under these circumstances, teachers guide students to be innovative and discover possibilities for problem-solving.

What school are you going to now? What are you studying there? What year of study are you in?

I have received a number of university offers and my current decision is to study for a double degree in Economics and Statistics at McGill University.


People should never concede, don’t give in, don’t give up, don't lose hope, and stay focused on the ultimate goal. Work on the basis of an absolute and unflinching, unwavering, utterly resolute commitment to win.” - John Bercow, Speaker of the British House of Commons.


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