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Where Are They Now? - Vivian Rajkumar

We’re extremely proud of last year’s Year 13 cohort who achieved the school’s best ever International Baccalaureate results. Not only did they achieve academic excellence, but they also learned to lead and made a real difference in our school community and beyond.

A highly motivated and talented group, they are now starting the next part of their education journey as they embark on their first year at universities around the world.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be catching up with our graduates to find out more about where they are now, and how their time at The British International School Shanghai, Pudong has impacted on their higher education choices and experience.

Vivian Rajkumar arrived at BISS Pudong in Year 10, and immediately impressed his teachers with his mature and committed approach to school life. He excelled academically from the start, achieving 6 A*s in the IGCSE, but also immersed himself in co-curricular activities like the IB Choir, Model United Nations and a community project in Lijiang.

Vivian’s Year 13 form tutor, Katherine Wilson appraises, “Vivian is very committed and diligent. He pays attention to detail and he’s very hard-working. With the qualities he’s demonstrated, I have no doubt he will have a very successful future both at university and in his chosen profession.”

Now a first year undergraduate at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), Vivian is studying Engineering, planning to eventually major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Aeronautical Engineering. He answered our questions about his course selection and school and university life:

Why did you choose HKUST and the engineering course?

I chose The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for several reasons. Firstly, Hong Kong is a city in which the economy, business and trade are booming. Moreover, as I had been living in Shanghai for the past 4 years, I thought I would be comfortable pursuing my higher studies in a similar environment (as in with similar cultural values). HKUST is one of the most prestigious universities in Asia, with a global outlook - with 'international mindedness'.

I plan to major in Aerospace Engineering for my post-graduate course, and I think a major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Aeronautical Engineering provides a strong basis for students planning to pursue in Aerospace, mainly through classes such as Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, the Mechanisms of Machinery, Heat Transfer and Solid Mechanics.

What do you think of the fact that your IB cohort achieved the best results in BISS Pudong's history?

Honestly, I wasn't surprised about my IB cohort scoring highly this year. When I joined BISS in 2010 (in Year 10), I was taken aback by the level of academic ability of the students in my year group. My year group was not only good at academics, but also at sports and physical fitness.

How well do you think our school has prepared you for university life? How are you finding it to be so far?

I completely underestimated the International Baccalaureate system. I have begun to realise that I am different compared to most HKUST students (who had not taken the IB Diploma Program in their high school).

Other engineering students have difficulty taking risks by choosing the 'harder' classes, and instead choose courses like Basic Calculus. In comparison, the IB has made me more open-minded and more of a risk-taker, as can be seen in my enrollment in courses such as Honors Calculus and Honors Physics (even though a math and physics level as high as that is not required). In addition, the IB taught me to pursue my knowledge in courses that aren't being taught at university (extra reading), and I am learning additional courses such as Introduction to Thermodynamics and Introduction to Fluid Mechanics (from the University of California Irvine through YouTube videos of lectures).

What advice do you have for students embarking on the IB at BISS Pudong?

1. Get a clear idea of your extended essay topic as soon as possible. You will have a LOT of research and extra studying to do regarding your topic, and this will take the most amount of time in the extended essay process. By having more time to research, you can increase your chances of getting a refined and specific essay that is to-the-point.

2. Pass CAS. The last thing you want to be doing after your final exams (when you should be celebrating and chilling) is worrying because you did not meet the CAS requirements.

3. Do as many past papers as you can.

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