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Spotlight On BIS Houston IB Alumni | Class of 2016 Arham

Where is your future taking you?

Look to the future and take a ride with our ambitious achiever, Class of 2016 IB Diploma Graduate, Arham, as we put a spotlight on our Alumni, studying Mechanical Engineering at UT Austin. Read his great insights for future IB Diploma Graduates! 

  • Arham - British International School of Houston alumni

It's been quite a ride. After graduating from BIS Houston in 2016, I joined Singapore's Fire and Rescue organization for two years where I became a Sergeant. During this time, I was invited to meet the Prime Minister of Singapore as a result of my service excellence. I returned to the U.S. in 2018 and enrolled in UT Austin, where I am pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. I have been selected for internships in a range of industries including Machine Learning, Oil and Gas, and the Automotive. I also met the love of my life at university and we are happily engaged! 

What were some of the co-curriculars that you focused on while at BIS Houston?

I was lucky to have been involved in several activities at BIS Houston, but perhaps the most fun was being able to contribute as a coach to the BIS Houston cricket team. I thoroughly enjoyed helping the next generation of young cricketers and we all got to attend the Cricket All-Stars training in November 2015 hosted by the legends of the game who came to the US.

How did those experiences contribute to your engagement while at university?

Being involved in various activities helped me develop a wider perspective on how to lead and solve problems. The leadership skills one develops from clubs can be greatly applicable to class projects which involve teamwork or company sponsorship. For the school activities which involved external collaboration with organizations, managing a relationship was a crucially applicable skill when searching for research opportunities and when pursuing a job.

What is your best memory from your time at school?

I have had some amazing memories of my time at BIS Houston. When I think of the teachers at BIS Houston, I am reminded of the personal investment and their strong desire for what is best for their students and I am pleased to share that I am even in touch with them today. Through the ups and downs, the mentoring that the BIS Houston staff gave was something I'll be forever grateful for. Aside from the teachers, the friends and those lunches in the common room were especially fun. I met some amazing friends at BIS Houston who are kind, caring, and great company to watch and play football with. The people define the place and I have enjoyed so many interactions with the people at BIS Houston.

How did the IBDP prepare you for university?

IBDP is the best program out there in terms of preparation for university in my opinion. Although it is intense, there is no better way to prepare oneself for university since the program develops you holistically with initiatives like CAS and EE. It's no surprise that the EE style of work is quite common in university and the analytical and problem-solving mindset one develops is extremely useful when navigating a successful university career.

How was the transition to university?

IBDP certainly helped my transition to the academic rigor of university. One thing that BIS Houston helped me with was making friends. An international school means you get to meet people from all over the world. It's no different at university, particularly in the case of UT Austin. The ability to interact with people from all across the world is part of the diversity that I love at UT Austin. 

Pre-COVID-19, what was your typical day like on campus?

 The nice thing about university is that you don't have to get up as early for courses if you plan your schedule right. I usually try to schedule my classes to start around 10am since I am not much of a morning person. I make sure to not eat a single meal alone and have the pleasure of seeing many of my friends during lunch on campus or dinner at my favorite off-campus Mediterranean joint. In the afternoon, I usually try and get into a study group with some friends as we tackle homework and the evening is often composed of sports and/or a movie. Weekends are usually composed of exploring Austin and some of the great outdoor spots it has to offer.

What is the best aspect of your university course?

You get to meet great people and learn from some of the smartest people around in their respective fields. One of our professors recently won a Nobel Prize which was great for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The classes at university are what I want to do, leadership and problem-solving so I am able to take classes within Management and I have even taken an upper-division foreign language course exploring the beauty of poetry in Urdu. You can take any class that interests you so don't limit yourself to just your major

Is there a specific type of student that would enjoy the University of Texas at Austin?

 UT likes authenticity. My biggest suggestion to everyone applying is to be yourself, but be your best self. It's important to remain humble and collaborative. The UT campus is all about working together and collaborating so being a team player is everything. I love the fact that UT is not cutthroat competitive but rather we all help each other to succeed. UT also likes people who are willing to step out of their comfort zone. University is all about exploring options to broaden your horizons, join organizations that you find cool, the motto of our school is "What starts here changes the world" and you can do that with your organizations on the campus itse

Where is your favorite place to hang out in Austin?

I like getting outdoors so kayaking downtown and visiting scenic spots like Mt Bonnell. Austin also has a great food scene, so exploring all sorts of delicious cuisines to explore! 

What advice would you give your Year 11 self? What advice would you give your Year 13 self?

Year 11: Make a LinkedIn profile to truly explore what life is like in the major you are interested in. LinkedIn is the best way to get to know professionals who are doing all sorts of innovative things. Second, value the relationships that you have formed in the past and ones that you will form during your last two years of school. Make the most of IBDP. Understand the culture of the colleges/universities you want to go to.

Year 13: Find some mentors who can help you navigate the university world. There will be all sorts of highs and lows in life so be there for others and develop good mentoring relationships and valuable friendships. Get on LinkedIn and explore. I have found great mentors and friends with so many different interests. People make a place/job wonderful.

I personally am on LinkedIn (Arham Junaid) and would be happy to help in any way I can whether it be for IBDP, university advice, or job search!

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