Wow! This Cum Laude From UST Just Got Accepted Into New York University

"Don't let anything intimidate you because sometimes, all you need is the audacity."
by Kate Detoya   |  Aug 24, 2022
Image: Clarabelle Umali Art: Faye Umali
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"What do you plan to do once you graduate?" is a question commonly asked by relatives and acquaintances during reunions. For 23-year-old University of Santo Tomas graduate Clarabelle Umali, what she had in mind was to enter graduate school at the New York University—the alma mater of many famous celebs like Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Olsen, and Dakota Fanning.

While some might assume that she wanted to study there because of the remarkable list of alumni who graduated from the institution, the Creative Writing graduate's real motivation is actually her favorite childhood movie.

 "Ever since I was younger, I used to watch a lot of movies such as The Devil Wears Prada, which is one of my faves. And we do see that Andrea Sachs worked as an assistant to a fashion magazine in New York, so I really saw myself in Andy's shoes," she confessed. And just like Andy, Clarabelle also had the opportunity to briefly work for a fashion and beauty magazine before graduating and applying to NYU.


Of course, the application process was tedious at first. Clarabelle recalled asking her parents for support because the application fee costs a considerable sum. She also had to ask friends to critique her sample works, as well as reach out to professors for recommendation letters. And with how close the application's deadline was to her graduation, there was only a month to prepare everything! 

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But as expected from a go-getter, Clarabelle managed to pull it off and submit all her requirements on the deadline. In a Facebook post last July 29, Clarabelle revealed  the great news as she thanked everyone who believed in her and supported her during the process.


"It was 2 AM here when I received a notification on my Gmail that NYU had already come to a decision. I initially thought I would wait. But then I couldn't wait until morning for me to check it, so I clicked the link. And upon opening it, I immediately saw the letter that said, 'Congratulations, you got into the program. We're very excited to welcome you to NYU.' That's what the letter read," she said.

Until now, Clarabelle admits that it still hasn't fully sunk into her that she got accepted into her desired program at NYU—and on her first try! Nonetheless, the achievement wasn't handed to her; it was something she worked for, little by little.

"This did not fall into my lap and just happened at once. I really curated a portfolio that would be suited for the program that I wanted, for the field that I wanted. I seek out the opportunities that would really help me, gear me into this," she said.


Clarabelle also stressed the importance of going for what you want and not letting fear stop you. "You just have to put yourself out there. Don't let anything intimidate you because sometimes, all you need is the audacity. If I didn't have the audacity to apply to NYU, then I wouldn't be in this position," she added.

According to Clarabelle, it's also worth noting that graduate schools look at a person holistically. She explained, "They don't just look for a person that's academically shining; they look for someone well-rounded, so I think that really helped since I was able to see the recommendation letters that my professors wrote about me. And one of the things they highlighted was how I was a student leader and how my leadership capabilities were."

She never neglected to appreciate the people around her even when she already attained her goals. "If I were with people who would already tear me down without even starting, I would not have even thought of doing this. But being around the right peoplethe people that believed in me, the people who knew I could do itit really helped a lot," she said.


 As of writing, Clarabelle is waiting for her classes to start this September and is working as a content producer for a media company, a job that she plans to juggle with her studies. 

Learn more about Clarabelle in this Candy University feature: 




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