We caught up with a few ex-high school students now at university to see how they’re getting on and what their plans are for the future
High school: GEMS Dubai American Academy (DAA)
Year of graduation: 2015
University: St Francis Xavier University (StFX), Nova Scotia, Canada
How are you getting on at StFX?
I love the university and the community here in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I decided to do my Bachelor of Education at StFX after finishing my Bachelor of Human Kinetics here this year. Students develop fantastic relationships with professors and the connections you make at this little university are endless!
What have been the highlights and challenges so far?
Being able to maintain a full course load on top of extra-curricular activities is still challenging, even though I did it throughout high school. One highlight was getting my X-Ring. This is a special graduation tradition for all StFX students, with parents invited. The ceremony was so meaningful.
Do you feel DAA prepared you well for university?
It definitely prepared me for my core classes and even though I took only a few IB courses, I found the high school-level classes still prepared me for what I wanted to do. I understood the core material and had the learning skills necessary to be successful.
You got to meet 2017 Global Teacher Prize winner Maggie MacDonnell – how was that?
Listening to her speak was amazing. She started the presentation by asking, “How could a gym teacher be worth a million dollars?” But after sharing her story and all the work she has done for so many communities, it was very understandable and she was truly inspirational. Maggie really emphasised how building interpersonal relationships with your students is crucial for them to be engaged and make real-life connections that help to prepare them for life outside school. The part that I loved most – with physical education being my teachable subject – is how getting to know your students, and making PE applicable to what they like, will keep them engaged in physical activity for the rest of their lives.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I hope to teach internationally after I complete my Bachelor of Education in 2021. I loved growing up overseas and being a Third Culture Kid, and I hope to continue to grow and develop and practice my profession in global environments. I am so excited to teach PE – I hope to bring a new and fun pedagogical approach, all while being inclusive and generating a safe learning environment for my students to maximise their physical fitness and understanding of physical literacy.
High school: GEMS Our Own English High School
Year of graduation: 2019
University: University of Birmingham Dubai (UoB)
We hear you were awarded a scholarship – tell us more.
After graduating from high school with a percentage of 95.4, I joined the University of Birmingham Dubai as the awardee of the Chancellor’s 100% Scholarship. The exceptionally supportive teaching unit at my school and my ever-encouraging parents provided me with a constructive study environment both at school and at home, which aided me in attaining scholastic achievements throughout my academic life.
How do you feel about winning such an amazing grant?
I feel honoured to receive this prestigious scholarship. It was a delightful accomplishment and a financial relief for me and my family. I now want to make the most of the opportunity.
How are you getting on at university?
I applied to the University of Birmingham Dubai for my degree in Computer Science and started my journey with an aspiration to continue excelling and successfully receive a highly reputed British degree. I’m impressed by the quality of education and the global career opportunities the university provides.
What are your plans for the future?
Thanks to the scholarship, I can devote myself to my academic and career aspirations, invest in my postgraduate degree and eventually become a prosperous professional so I can contribute significantly to the field of artificial intelligence and robotics. I am looking forward to a glorious journey at UoB and hope to thrive academically, socially and professionally.
Sonali’s scholarship at the University of Birmingham Dubai was made possible by the GEMS UniConnect programme, which partners with universities in the UAE and internationally to offer scholarships for summer, undergraduate and other courses exclusively to GEMS Education students.
A UoB representative said, “We are delighted to work in partnership with GEMS Education to reward students who exhibit the highest standards of academic excellence and showcase the best educational achievements from the United Arab Emirates. We are proud to offer students the opportunity to pursue the highest quality study and graduate from a world top 100-ranked institution in the heart of Dubai. Many congratulations to Sonali. We look forward to helping you do exceptional things over the next three years.
Checking in with GWA graduates
Alice Recoura: “I’m from GEMS World Academy – Dubai’s Class of 2018, and I am now entering my second year studying Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bristol, UK. I’ve met some wonderful people here, and several nights out have been a fun part of me figuring out British culture. My favourite memory of my first year is driving back from a farm with a lamb I had saved from an inhumane euthanisation in the backseat of my car. Looking back at my high school experience, I feel Mrs Arnold really prepared us for university life, by encouraging us to be more independent and willing to figure out answers by working hard. I hope to someday open my own vet clinic and help as many furry friends as possible.”
Neeranuch Vootivakinskul: “I’m a graduate of the 2016 batch at GEMS World Academy – Dubai, and I’m finishing my final year of Geological Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. After graduating in 2020, I hope to find a geotechnical engineering job in Vancouver or at home in Bangkok, Thailand. As my undergraduate education comes to a close, I have a great appreciation for the role my school played in my life, as a positive influence. The many opportunities to get involved in clubs, music and sports helped me to develop the skill of balancing school, extra-curricular activities and a social life. I can’t emphasise enough how much I value my DP teachers; they always had my best interests at heart and I thank them for shaping me into the learner that I am today.”
Noa Bleeker: “I graduated from GEMS World Academy – Dubai in 2015. Since then, I’ve completed a two-year acting course at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. I am currently continuing my studies in the UK where I’m aiming to earn my full bachelor’s degree. After completing my degree course, I hope to make acting a full-time career (both on stage as well as on film and TV) and become fully certified in stage combat. Taking part in the school productions at GWA not only allowed me to get a taste of what it takes to be part of a production’s cast and crew, but it was also during this time that I realised performing was something I wanted to pursue professionally.”