Why the US? – Sara-Ann Yong (Mount Holyoke College ’18 / Harvard MArch ’23)


If you told me five years ago that I would be pursuing a Master in Architecture, much less at Harvard (!!!), I would have laughed, because what an incredulous concept. 

I wasn’t one of those people who knew right off the bat what I wanted to do after high school or even in pre-u. What I knew I wanted though, was the flexibility and freedom to shape my own education. And shape my education I did; I enrolled at Mount Holyoke College, a historically all-women’s liberal arts college, and for the first time in my 12 years of education, I had autonomy over what I wanted to learn.

I don’t think I would have found my love for architecture + design if not for the liberal arts system. The liberal arts allowed me to explore, but also to see how things connect. It meant that my Physics, Environmental Studies, and Theatre classes gave me a more holistic perspective and informed how I approached architecture + design. And that the things I learned in the Japanese Papermaking class I spontaneously enrolled in my freshman year could become the basis of my architecture thesis my senior year. I got to live in Denmark for four months, seeing and experiencing architecture sites I had only read about in person. And it was okay if I had only slept two hours the night before because I was up making models, because I finally found what I enjoyed and what I wanted to do with my life.

Four years of college, a Bachelor’s degree, and one gap year later, I’m choosing the US again and I’m going to Harvard – something I never dreamed I would ever do, something that definitely wouldn’t be possible without the experiences that shaped me at Mount Holyoke.