Born in Monte Carlo, Constance Paefgen, 17, currently attends the International School of Monaco, where she’ll be graduating as the valedictorian of ISM’s Class of 2017. Ms Paefgen also holds the distinction of being the first student from the International School of Monaco to get into the Ivy League’s “Big Three” of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
Although Ms Paefgen told ML that “life as a teenager in Monaco is quite exciting, with all the big events that take place on our doorstep”, such as the F1 Grand Prix or the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, she hardly represents a typical teen Snapchatting her every move with the Principality in the backdrop.
“There are many different types of people in Monaco,” Ms Paefgen, who speaks German, French, English and Spanish, explained. “I’ve personally always been extremely ambitious, hardworking and independent. If I set my mind on something, I go above and beyond to make it happen. I couldn’t be more grateful to have the chance to pursue my intellectual curiosities at Yale and to take classes from some of the world’s most distinguished faculty.”
Ms Paefgen, whose family is “entirely composed of German nationals”, was actively involved in school life throughout the past four years, from serving as the President of Student Council to being Editor-in-Chief of two school newspapers. Other extracurricular endeavours included piano, tennis, public speaking, Model UN, robotics and philanthropy.
“I’ve done five two-week internships in four different countries, including one at the German Embassy of Paris and one at RTL television in Cologne. I’ve also attended summer courses at Columbia and Yale. Moreover, I was awarded Monaco’s Harvard Book Award of 2016 – ironically, I never applied to Harvard, as Yale has always been my first choice.”
Teaching English to disabled orphans in Kyrgyzstan is also included in Ms Paefgen's CV. "I choose to teach the disabled orphans in Kyrgyzstan, because I wanted to give something back to the wider community. It was a life-changing experience for me. It sharpened my view on some of the problems and injustices I see in the world."
Attending Yale has been Constance Paefgen’s dream for many years. “Campus visits and conversations with friends have made me value it as a collaborative community of scholars and as a place, where you are challenged and can challenge. I’m currently thinking of studying Ethics, Politics and Economics, but this might change in the future.” Yale’s Early Action decisions came out December 15, 2016 and she opened the email at home with her family.
“I couldn’t be more excited. Yale offers so many opportunities and resources. In February, the university invited me to partake in Directed Studies, a rigorous academic program for freshman. This fall, I’d like to get involved with the Yale Daily News and the German Society. I’m also very much looking forward to the Harvard-Yale game this November.”
As ambition is a quality she admires in individuals, those who are driven and perseverant in achieving their dreams, Ms Paefgen said by the age of 30 she sees herself as an investment banker on Wall Street. “One day I’d also like to open up my own hedge fund,” she added. “To me, success means setting goals and achieving them.”
Attending Yale in the fall of 2017 is certainly an exceptional accomplishment for this young Monaco resident, who feels that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is very important. "When I have free time, I love going to the gym or playing tennis with friends."
The soon to be IMS Alumni added: “I hope to become a DJ on Yale’s radio station WYBC. I think people would be surprised to know this but I love EDM – Electronic Dance Music.”
Article first published March 26, 2017.