09:25 / 03.02.2023

“I want to develop astronomy in Uzbekistan” – An interview with a girl who won $300,000 grants at 4 U.S. universities

Farangiz Kholmatova lives in the village of Ukchi, Fergana region. The girl, who is now studying in the 11th grade of school No. 17, has been enrolled in 4 U.S. universities ahead of schedule and won grants in the amount of about $300,000. In an interview with Kun.uz, she talked about how she achieved such a result.

In early January, our heroine applied to more than 30 international universities. Letters of admission have been received from 4 universities so far. The graduate was recommended for admission to the University of the Ozarks (total grant: $80,000), Seton Hall University (total grant: $104,500), Hofstra University (total grant: $112,000), and the University of Delaware.

Farangiz Kholmatova said that her preparation for entering an international university fell into quarantine.

“After they bought me a phone, I began to learn a lot on the Internet”

My parents have one son and two daughters. The eldest is my brother, then my sister, who got married, and me. My brother has already had a baby, so there are 6 people living in the house: me, my brother, our sister-in-law, my niece and parents. I am the youngest child, my father and mother are pensioners.

At school, I studied French from the 5th grade, because that was the order for children who were admitted to study in the same year as me. From the 8th grade, I started learning English from scratch, I studied at the training center for 6 months. Then, when I went to 9th grade, quarantine began, so my classes stopped. When I started the 10th grade, a presidential school was supposed to open in Fergana, and I really wanted to study there, because presidential schools give a great incentive to be admitted to foreign universities. I did a self-study and prepared hard. The quarantine continued, I started learning a lot after my parents bought me a phone to study online. To pass the exam for the presidential school, I learnt mathematics on YouTube (with Sardorkhon Urfonkhonov). Then I passed the first round tests for admission to school, but did not get enough points in the second...

Then, I applied to 5 lyceums in Tashkent. I was admitted to all of them, and chose the academic lyceum at the Tashkent State University of Economics. For some time I studied in the capital, but for financial reasons I had to leave my studies and return to Fergana, where I went back to my school.

After my return, my teachers were very supportive of me. When I didn’t have a PC, they gave me their computers and spared their precious time. The role of teachers is very important in the process of enrolment in foreign universities. Recommendations will need to be uploaded on their behalf. And then none of them refused me, I was able to easily send letters of recommendation from my teachers who know me well. They were very helpful in this regard.

“It was difficult to convince my parents to let me go to Kazakhstan to take the exam”

In order to enter foreign universities, I had to prepare for the IELTS exam. In our area, there are no experts on this matter, besides, a pandemic began at that time. In Kokand, you cannot find a specialist who teaches SAT. I didn’t have enough resources to study and prepare, so I had to prepare for IELTS and SAT on my own, relying on YouTube and Google. I tried to search for sources on the Internet, contacted students studying abroad and received information from them. As a result, I took the IELTS exam without having time to prepare well, so I got only 6.5 points.

I was disappointed with my result, and I began to intensively prepare for the SAT. Then there were only 2 educational centers in the whole country where you could take the SAT exam (now there are 4 of them). There were no more vacancies in these centers, and in order to pass the exam, I had to go to Kazakhstan. In this direction, a teacher named Khasankhodja Muhammad Sadik is working, who takes the examinees to Kazakhstan. I saw this ad when I was watching his Telegram channel and immediately sent a request. We made the payment, and everything was arranged for us: travel, transport, meals.

It was difficult to convince my parents to let me go to Kazakhstan and take the SAT. Even after I got registered, I did not immediately tell my family that I was going to a neighboring country, they thought that I was leaving for Tashkent again. Then I quietly explained the situation to them, and finally my parents took me to the place of departure and handed me over to the teacher.

I passed the exam and scored 1230 points out of 1600. It was a good result. I think that because our school teaches math very well and I watched online lessons, I got the highest score on the SAT in math. Actually, I also did quite well in English, but I think my math background helped a lot.

“It’s hard to spend too much time studying in the countryside”

In addition to household chores, schooling was hampered by the heat in summer and the cold in winter. As the deadlines for passing the exam and submitting documents approached, I began to prepare more diligently. I went to bed at 8 p.m., got up at 2 a.m. and worked until dawn. Because after 2 a.m. I can’t fall asleep, I wake up automatically, “brainstorming” begins in my head. After morning prayer, I continue my studies until noon. I divide my classes into 30 minutes for English and Math. After that I do housework. Since we live in a rural area, it is difficult for us to spend a lot of time studying.

During the holidays, I had to spend more time studying, although my friends invited me to take a walk and have fun. I wanted to, of course, but I had to refuse offers. Sometimes I even asked my family to tell my friends that I was not there. I had to completely “disappear” in order to enter a foreign university.

Preparation for admission to foreign universities should begin in advance from the 7th-8th grade. Because in addition to IELTS and SAT certificates, the applicant’s grades, his achievements, participation in olympiads, his activity and membership in international clubs are also important.

“My goal is to develop astronomy in Uzbekistan”

To be honest, at the beginning I had no intention of going abroad at all. I thought that I would enter the Uzbek State University of World Languages or the University of World Economy and Diplomacy. With these dreams, I studied until the 9th grade. Then I became interested in astronomy. As you know, there are no universities of this direction in Uzbekistan. I searched on the Internet, then I watched a YouTube video about Harvard University, filmed inside the academic building. I became interested in studying at U.S. universities. While participating in the Olympiads in geography, I also studied America from a geographical point of view. I got acquainted with universities, it seemed that I would somehow be more comfortable studying in America. That’s why I applied there in the direction of “Astronomy”. In addition to these universities, I also applied to the TOP universities, by the “regular decision deadline”. After receiving all the answers, depending on the position of the university and the grant, I will receive a visa and go to study.

When my parents first heard about my decision, they thought: “Is it right to send a girl alone?”, But then, when they heard that I was accepted to these 4 universities and saw that people believe in me, they said: “Okay, do what you think is right, we will give you permission and take care of financial security. If I am enrolled in a good university and earn their trust, they will definitely let me go.

So far, I have not decided which direction of astronomy I want to pursue, because first I intend to study computer technology after I go abroad. But I have a definite goal – to return to Uzbekistan and build observatories for the development of astronomy and research.

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