12 March, 2024

Outstanding DAIS Seniors: Meet Dmitry Ulyakhin

Dmitry Ulyakhin, DAIS Class of 2024

Dmitry (Dima) Ulyakhin, DAIS Class of 2024

  • Dmitry UlyakhinSAT 1520
  • GPA 3.91
  • AP International Diploma, AP Scholar with Distinction
  • Duolingo English Test 150 (equivalent to TOEFL 118 or IELTS 8)
  • NHS member
  • StuGov Secretary
  • Football ACAMIS 2023 3rd place
  • Acting Diploma from the Department of Culture, Moscow, Russia
  • Five college offers, including:
    • Lehigh University (ED2 - committed)
    • UMass Amherst
    • Penn State

We’re excited to start series of interviews with Dalian American International School and Huamei School Class of 2024 graduates. Today we would like to welcome Dmitry, a Russian student who spent a few glorious years in China and now is heading off to study in the United States.

Dalian: Where Mountains Meet the Sea

Shoutout to my parents for choosing Dalian and DAIS in 2018 when I was moving to China. ACTUALLY THANKS. Unlike many people in Dalian American International School, my journey here was a pure choice by my parents. To explain it, I need to form a quick timeline. In the summer of 2018, my dad got a job offer from a car manufacturing company in Baoding (a town a bit south of Beijing).

Field on DAIS campus

Dalian American International School campus

Because of Dalian’s clean air, beautiful green scenery, and developing infrastructure, it seemed like the best place in China to live. Especially for Russian people – the temperature here is almost the same as in Moscow, my hometown, which is nothing but a bonus. Also, there is some Russian heritage too, another bonus. After my dad came to discover school options in Dalian, DAIS had the most welcoming atmosphere for him, and he was pleased with the education quality too. So, that’s exactly how I ended up joining the DAIS community in Grade 7 and now graduating from here more than 5 years later.

Work Hard, Play Harder

For me, the class at DAIS with the best course content was certainly my Grade 10 AP English Language and Composition with Mr. Sparks. In that class, I had the worst grades in my entire high school transcript, but that didn’t matter when we spent a whole unit with Mr. Sparks learning rhetoric in video games(!!).

To prepare for the AP exam, which is the hardest AP exam in my experience, he taught us in so many cool ways that I never saw any other teacher doing. My favorite topic was 9-2, where we played videogames, analyzed them, and began writing rhetorical analysis of our favorite ones. I chose FM, of course, and that was the first time I’ve got a perfect score on an essay ;) The coolest class I’ve ever been in, and second-best teacher after Mr. Twaddell.

Dr. Liu classroom

Meeting with Dr. Liu, AP Calculus and AP Physics teacher

Though, the class I’ve had the most fun in was probably second semester Chinese in my Grade 10. With my classmates (there were 4 of us), we had the best time, turning classes into a place for jokes combined with hard work. Work hard, play harder, was the philosophy of B4 gang. Basically, every day was enjoyable because I was honored to be with my friends. After 2 years, however, I’m now the only person from our group that’s still here at DAIS. Shirah, Caleb, and Misa, thanks for making that class a wonderful memory.

Chinese class during  virtual school

Chinese class during virtual school

My stay at DAIS was highlighted by a couple leadership positions and a lot of hard work. I participated in a few Musical Theater performances as an actor and stage director. I also captained our Table Tennis team. Due to the cancellation of the ACAMIS events during COVID, I ended up the only person in our team that was there before. In Grade 8, my doubles team earned joint 4th place in doubles competition. This year, as a senior, it was my time to lead the team. Even though our team was very small, we still managed one player into 1/8 stage in singles competition.

ACAMIS table tennis competition

ACAMIS Table Tennis

Last spring, I won Student Government elections. Together with Sam and Roger, we had so much fun making our campaign videos. I won’t recap every single event that we’ve done this year, but overall, they were very successful. So many times, I’ve been thinking, “Why am I even here doing this? Why can’t I just rest?” when my legs cramped in preparations for another event in the same month. However, the answer lays in the night after the success – because of the happy feeling I get after watching days of my work turning into the smiles of those who attend those events. That’s why we keep grinding.

ACAMIS football competition

ACAMIS Football

As a person, I’m on a sporty and competitive side. For most people, you can guess who they are just based on their interests and I’m not an exception. At the moment, my main hobbies are football, table tennis, and CS2. In football, I’m a player on the school team, got 4000+ hours on various editions of Football Manager, and never missed a single game of my favorite team – AMKAL. I have 3 jerseys of them! Also, I’m a big CS2 fan, supporting Amkal Esports ever since the team was established. This year, we already won against Astralis and Falcons, if you know what I mean :)

Quality Time with Family

Grandparents and a baby boyMy family supported me throughout the journey in many ways, both in my academics and overall life, which means a lot to me. Even though I didn’t see my dad for 80% of the time, he still did everything I needed to have a great time in school and outside of it. For example, he found a place for me at Hexagon Purus to get internship experience that was vital in my college applications or helped me review my college essays.

My mom, on the other hand, was my supporter in day-to-day situations. I’m quite happy that I could spend my time doing homework and count on her to have dinner ready and to keep things in order. Spending time outside with her was also some of the most underrated to me, as she often found things to do and places to go.

My grandparents, even though still living back in Russia, supported me whenever I needed them too. My grandpa, a professor at one of Russia’s top universities, went out of his way to help me understand AP Calculus BC’s topics that I struggled with. Before I left Russia, I got to spend such a great time with them, that they remember how I cried almost whenever I had to go back home. As for my little brother, I loved that in all those stories, he was with me all the way. When we’d travel to visit my dad to Beijing on weekends, or spend time in Bulgaria with my grandparents, he was always there.

Balanced Application List and Dream College

In my college application process, Mrs. Queenie played the most important role. Whenever I had any questions about it, she would always help me. Although it was tough for her to manage every student, she succeeded in helping me secure offers from a few tier-1 universities. However, I also tried to do anything I could do on my own. Not just research, but the application process through Common App itself.

Lehigh University welcome pack

My final list ended up being 24 colleges. Of those, half were tier 1, like Georgia Tech or UCLA, and some were safeties – less selective universities. The two schools I really WANTED to go to, Lehigh and Northwestern, were my ED choices. I chose Northwestern because of the ranking and state-of-the-art facilities, and Lehigh because of the atmosphere, teachers, and career opportunities. Applying to Lehigh University was also an idea of my mom’s, because a few people our family has good connections with, like Dr. Lee (former DAIS Head of School) and Ms. Hiriti (DAIS student’s mom, Intel company) were Lehigh alumni. I guess now I will be another addition to the Lehigh people my mom knows collection😁 I’m planning to study Electrical Engineering there.

Value Your Time and Know Your Worth

After graduating, I think I will miss the atmosphere here at DAIS. Compared to the public schools I was previously in, here at DAIS I genuinely felt like there was something out there just for me. Teachers who care for your successes and willing to stay hours after school to help you, friends whom I could call on a weekend to kick a football around or with whom I could spend quality time, even the old design of the secondary school building with welcoming warm colors on the walls. I’m already missing many of my friends who graduated last year (like Tommy), and I can’t even imagine how much more I will yearn for everybody and everything else after graduating. A quick note to 9th and 10th graders – value your time with friends and great teachers at DAIS.

Interview with Sea Dragon

Dmitry (left) with friends

Another piece of advice to younger students - KNOW YOUR WORTH. And I mean it. Sometimes, the schools you apply to need to fight for you instead of you fighting for schools. Asking for just enough financial aid is not a wrong decision either. After all, it doesn’t matter if you get rejected by some schools, if the one best fit school accepts you.

Dmitry Ulyakhin
DAIS Class of 2024