PenDragon - the official magazine of Lyford Cay International School PenDragon Vol 5, Spring 2019 - Page 16

“ Going to a school like Yale can be pretty overwhelming because everyone is so smart. The IB gave me a measure of confidence, which was really helpful because a large part of being successful at a competitive school is being sure of yourself.” Thinking Differently: How an IB Education Prepared Issa Saunders for Ivy League Success By Taige J Adderley, Communications Coordinator Every year, Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) graduates go on to attend top colleges and universities around the world. For Issa Saunders (LCIS Class of 2011, Yale Class of 2015), the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum at LCIS was the starting point for a number of academic and career successes. She graduated from Yale and went to work in management for an e-commerce company in the US. She recently gained admittance to the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in pursuit of an MBA/Master’s Degree in International Studies. The IB programme has gained acclaim globally for its rigorous academics and the confidence it engenders in its students. LCIS graduate, Issa Saunders, knows firsthand the value of an IB education. Graduating with an IB diploma from LCIS primed Issa for success in life and helped her to gain access to top-tier tertiary opportunities. “I applied to ten schools, six of which were Ivy League, I was accepted to nine of them.” Among her offers was a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, one of the top-ranked schools in the United States. She also received a National Merit Scholarship and a scholarship from the Lyford Cay Foundation. While LCIS’s academics gave Issa an advantage when applying for admission to college, she credits her IB education for helping her with an often-overlooked aspect of applying for competitive universities: interviewing. “I think the introspective and reflective aspects of the IB prepare you to present yourself well for these opportunities. In my case, that may have mattered more than the actual IB diploma.” LCIS also boasts a number of co-curricular activities, electives and sports teams that extend learning beyond the classroom. Issa cites her participation in these programmes as one of the reasons she was able to gain acceptance to as many top-tier universities as she did, saying, “In order to gain acceptance to Ivy League schools, you have to show that you’re well-rounded, and I was always involved in many co-curricular 16 Issa, who had already learned Spanish and French at LCIS, then decided to put her career on hold to learn a fourth language. Wanting her fourth language to be one that was not a romance language and did not have Latin script, she chose Arabic. Having fallen in love with Jordan while on vacation visiting friends, she decided that it would be an ideal place to study and became particularly fond of Jordanian dialect (formal Arabic differs from conversational Arabic and dialects differ by region). Since completing her course in Arabic in March, she has moved back to the US. In May she started Wharton, where she will earn a Joint MBA and Master’s Degree in International Studies. activities, including being the founding Vice President of the InterAct Service Club and President the next year.” At Yale, Issa received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. The academic rigour of the IB exams and Extended Essay gave her the confidence to thrive in a competitive environment, “Going to a school like Yale can be pretty overwhelming because everyone is so smart. The IB gave me a measure of confidence, which was really helpful because a large part of being successful at a competitive school is being sure of yourself.” After university, Issa went to work for a healthcare consultancy firm in Washington, DC. Shortly after, she was offered an opportunity to expand the horizons of her young career and step into a more challenging management role at McMaster-Carr, an e-commerce company in Ohio, a challenge that she eagerly accepted. Wherever Issa goes after graduate school, she will take the lessons learned from her time at LCIS and the benefits of the IB with her. “Even today, the confidence I gained at LCIS allows me to take on risks that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered taking. It taught me to think differently.” 17