How many years were you enrolled in BIS Washington?
I was at BISW for 12 years, from Year 2 to Year 13.
What is your best memory from your time at school?
While not a specific memory, the international nature of BISW has been, in one way or the other, the reason I have so many positive memories from my time at the school. The ability to have friends from countries I may have otherwise never been interested in provided me with unique memories and instilled an appreciation and drive for travelling and experiencing different cultures, which resulted in me wanting to pursue a career in foreign affairs.
What were some of the co-curriculars that you focused on while a student?
I was fortunate to have a wide variety of co-curricular opportunities as a student at BISW, ranging from playing softball and football, which I was not particularly good at but was fun nonetheless, to travelling with the school to Bangkok, Tanzania, New York, and Reno.
How did those experiences contribute to your engagement while at university?
Unique experiences, such as debating in Bangkok and New York, and the strong foundation they provided in my oral communication skills, have allowed me to pursue experiences such as joining the UChicago Debate Society. In general, the experiences provided by BISW have been essential in distinguishing me from other applicants when applying to universities and jobs.
How did the IBDP prepare you for university?
IB instilled a strong work and time management system, which has translated exceptionally well into university. Most notably, heavy writing tasks such as IAs and the EE taught me how to complete high-quality pieces of writing simultaneously and in a short time frame, a skill which you will use a lot in university.
How was the transition to university?
Surprisingly the transition to university was not as challenging as I expected; fortunately, I made a good group of friends, picked up the academic structure of UChicago, and got into the rhythm of university life quite quickly. The most important lesson I took from this transition process was the importance of asking for help. Teachers always want what’s best for you, and everyone else is on the same boat as you.
Where are you attending/did you attend university? What course are you studying/did you study?
I am attending the University of Chicago, where I plan to pursue a double major in Political Science and Psychology and a minor in Astrophysics.
What is the best aspect of your university course and university?
The University of Chicago is unique in having a Core Curriculum, a range of concentrations from Social Sciences to Mathematics that all students must complete before their second year. As someone who wasn’t sure about what they wanted to study, the ability to dabble in various disciplines was quite appealing to me. While I was not overjoyed at the idea of taking a Biology class, the variety in the core classes—covering topics from nutrition to the biology of aliens—made these classes applicable to my interests. The ability to also take these quarter-long classes in various study abroad programs, such as Neuroscience in Paris and Civilization Studies in Egypt, makes these classes even more engaging. Hopefully, next Spring, I will be studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Civilizations in Jerusalem.
Where is your favourite place to hang out on/near campus?
When the weather gets warmer and going to get lunch stops feeling like an arctic expedition, Lake Michigan beaches are great for unwinding and meeting new people. If the weather is particularly good, and you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes, Lake Shore Drive has a scenic path exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists that takes you from one end of the city to the other. Currently, though, it’s negative eight degrees Celsius and the lake is partially frozen over, so I have my fingers crossed for good weather.
What advice would you give your Year 11 self? What advice would you give your Year 13 self?
I would want my Year 11 self to try as many things as possible. I encourage Year 11s to pick up academic and extracurricular activities that interest them, join sports clubs, make friends outside of school who share in your interests, keep your mind open and don’t lock yourself into a specific career path. Year 11 is the time to start figuring out what you might want to do and to find unique extracurricular activities that will distinguish you from others when applying to universities in the future.
To my Year 13 self, I would stress the importance of starting the university process early. Do your research. Make a list of your top 10 schools and your safety schools. Understand the application process, and most importantly, write a couple of bullet points for each of the universities you are applying to, where you specifically mention what about that university makes it the right fit for you. At the end of the day, some things are out of your hands, so all you can do is your best, and your best is enough.