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Service and STEM: Reflections on an ISP Education

We had the pleasure of recently speaking with Rhia Monks, Class of 2022, who tells us about her learning journey at ISP.  Rhia shares her experiences studying STEM, the profound impact of service experiences like Happy Caravan and Kurandza Club, and how her female teachers inspired her confidence and determination to pursue medicine.

Hi, Rhia! You have left quite a legacy at ISP. Everyone is so proud of you and excited about your future! Can you tell us where you are and what you are studying?

I am a first-year university student currently living in England, and studying medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Was there something or someone at ISP that stimulated your interest in medicine?

I always knew from a young age that I wanted to go into STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). I think that this initial interest came from my different role models throughout ISP. My mother, for one, being a science teacher at ISP, definitely showed me how versatile a science-based education could be. Having the opportunity to take such challenging classes in IB that were also taught by other extremely intelligent and motivating female teachers played an indispensable role in my self-esteem to go into medicine.

What did you learn at ISP that is making an impact in your experience now or in how you approach life/education?

I believe that students often take for granted how privileged they are to be able to study in school, like ISP, where individuals get the attention they need to succeed. Since going to university, I’m reflecting back on how lucky I was to attend ISP and what I’m grateful for about that experience.  At ISP, everyone can receive a broad education in so many areas through the IB programme. Choosing to take advantage of those types of opportunities can take students anywhere they want to go!

What were your favorite classes at ISP, and why?

I always thought that my favorite classes at ISP would be the ones most similar to medicine. For the most part, I was right, as chemistry, math, and biology were always the subjects I was most interested in, and I had great teachers for all of them. What I didn’t expect was for English to be one of my most enjoyable classes! I loved English, mainly because our teacher, Ms. Sheila Esshaki, is one of the most caring people I know. Ms. Sheila always started class with a smile on her face and worked so hard to make sure everyone was involved and enjoying themselves while doing so.

You received a 44 on your IB exam! That is an incredibly impressive score. Can you tell us about your IB journey and some memorable takeaways from the Diploma Programme?

I had many teachers and friends throughout the IB Diploma Programme who really helped me improve as a learner. I have great memories of many of my teachers who put in that extra effort to help me succeed, even if it was responding to my frantic late-night emails! I also attribute a large portion of my score, and improvement throughout the process, to my friends, who were equally ambitious. 

Any idea what you will do after graduation?

At this point, I hope to go into a field relating to surgery after finishing medical school and specialty training. I was introduced to lots of different groups supporting children’s education during my time at ISP, such as Happy Caravan with Ms. Nina Horakova and Kurandza club led by Ms. Springs Pacelli. Recognizing how our privilege to be at ISP enabled us to do such altruistic work really inspired me to do something similar in the future. In the end, I would love to work with similar non-profit organizations such as Doctors without Borders.