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Every year Virginia Commonwealth University welcomes thousands of new students. They come from all over, represent all ages, and have interests and views that vary widely. Each contributes to the tapestry that makes up the VCU community by adding their unique perspectives and life experiences to the mix.
Andy Shar is from Leesburg, Florida and is studying at the College of Humanities and Sciences and the Honors College.
After growing up in the suburbs of central Florida, Shar, a freshman, is looking forward to living on an urban campus.
“When I visited the campus I liked the urban feel,” said the 16-year-old forensic science major. “There are more people to interact with and more diversity.”
Shar, who skipped two grades prior to high school, is excited about pursuing forensic science.
“It combines some of my interests, such as chemistry, biology and problem solving. In the future, I would like to become a physician. This degree will give me a unique perspective on the work physicians do,” he said.
During his senior year in high school, Shar was named a National Merit Scholar. He attended the International Baccalaureate program and graduated as valedictorian.
A U.S. Presidential Scholar, he fielded offers from the University of Florida and Stanford but chose VCU because of his acceptance into the Guaranteed Admission Program for Medicine in the Honors College.
He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mother, a physician.
“Part of my inspiration comes from her and seeing the work she does every day,” he said. “I got to shadow her and other physicians and that deepened my interest in health care.”
His parents are emigrants from Myanmar and do not hold college degrees in the U.S., making him a first-generation U.S. college student.
At VCU, Shar is interested in joining an Asian Pacific organization as well as a scientific research club. He has competed in regional, state and international science fairs with projects on nanotechnology and was selected as a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar as well as an International Science and Engineering Fair finalist.
He finds it refreshing to have a few classes in person after a virtual senior year of high school due to the pandemic.
“I am more of a face-to-face learner,” he said. “I find the teachers at VCU engaging and caring.”