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Charm Tuala

Lighting the Way Forward with Academic Excellence: De La Salle College Student to Attend Brown University

For international students, being accepted into an Ivy League institution is an extraordinary dream, not a reality. But for Charm Tuala, nothing is out of reach. According to the 19-year-old De La Salle College student, all that is required is the drive, self-worth and desire to inspire change in others. This fall, Tuala, of Samoan descent, will leave his home in South Auckland to attend Brown University. 

For as long as he can remember, Tuala has been inspired by the value his parents placed on education. Such an early appreciation for academic achievement instilled a deep sense of motivation and duty in Tuala. As head boy of De La Salle College during his last year of high school, Tuala began to consider what he wanted to do next. It was then that he decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in the United States.

“I thought to myself, I’ve barely seen many brown faces in the Ivy Leagues, especially Pasifika. I thought if I could apply and get in, it would inspire others to do the same.”

Tuala’s dream of being accepted to an Ivy League school was not just about academic excellence or an overseas experience. For Tuala, showing others that anything is possible and that despite your means, location, or exposure, you can achieve whatever it is you set out to do. Seated in between his proud parents this past December, Tuala recorded a reaction video of him opening his acceptance letter from Brown University. The TikTok video went viral with over 770,000 views, 122,000 likes, and nearly 1,000 comments. 

As a high school student at De La Salle College in South Auckland, Tuala learned to personify the principles and traditions of the Lasallian faith. At the centre of these values is the importance of Christian education and the idea that all young people can attain exemplary achievement. Tuala is the embodiment of De La Salle College’s vision to create great men of learning, community and character. His acceptance to a prestigious American university extends way beyond himself.  Through his acceptance, Tuala hopes to prove to the next generation of brown students that anything is possible.