Two of our high-achieving IB Diploma 2022 graduates, Ella Fleming and Jamie Sullivan, are taking full advantage of being able to travel to other countries and have decided to undertake the next stage of their education overseas. Here, they provide some highlights of their journey at St Andrew’s Cathedral School and their plans for 2023 and beyond.
Ella is somewhat of a seasoned international traveller, having lived in Australia, Japan, Zambia and New York in her younger years. She is planning a move back to the north-east of the United States for her tertiary studies.
“I have applied to study at eight US east coast universities, with my top preferences being Brown (Rhode Island), Wesleyan (Connecticut) and Georgetown,” she said. “I used to live in New York City, so America feels like home to me. I’ve definitely been inspired by the IB Diploma’s interdisciplinary nature and I think the American universities provide a similar breadth of learning, so I hope to start a liberal arts degree in the US from the middle of this year.”
Did you have a favourite subject at St Andrew’s Cathedral School?
I had a whole bunch of classes that were exceptional. My favourite subjects were literature and philosophy. Mr Sahlstrom and Dr Hall really challenged me to think more deeply and wrestle with new concepts. I think Dr Hall single-handedly made me want to do philosophy at university. The weird thing is he’s not an anomaly at SACS. There are so many great teachers there.
What are your thoughts on the IB Diploma programme?
I’m very happy and relieved to get my result. It has been a tricky year and I did struggle at times, especially with a lack of motivation just before exams. But I loved the IB program and the skills it helped me develop.
What future study are you interested in?
I’m applying to liberal arts universities in USA with the hope of doing something really broad, but definitely with some history and philosophy. I can see myself getting a doctorate and coming back to Australia in 20 years and people will say, ‘what are you doing still at school?’ I have a love of learning.
Where does your love of learning come from?
School works for some people and it doesn’t for others and I’m lucky that the academic pathway works quite well for me. I enjoy the structure. Over the last four years, I’ve taken ownership of my education. It has given me a real sense of independence, autonomy, and power, which comes from knowing I can teach myself. In a lot of ways, St Andrew’s Cathedral School has done that for me. The fact that my teachers were so willing to listen to my ideas and run with what I’m saying; it’s the pinnacle of self-directed learning.
What are your plans for 2023?
I’m heading to London shortly with a friend and will work and travel from there for six months (we have a flat in Chelsea in London). We will visit a few other SACS students who have moved back to Europe, and then I hope to start my tertiary studies in the US in the second half of the year.
Jamie, who is currently living and working in Switzerland, loved Computer Science at school and plans to continue his studies at a tertiary level in Europe or the UK from September 2023 or 2024. He is applying to study computer science or software engineering at six of the UK’s top universities, along with universities in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
“I would like to improve my German in Switzerland during my gap year, so I could then possibly go and study in Zurich or Munich,” he said. “Career-wise, I only know I want to do something with computer science, but this will become clearer during my studies. It is also an aspiration of mine to start a business at some point in my life, but that will come later on.”
What do you attribute your academic success to?
The main things were my dedicated teachers, particularly in Maths (Mr Perry) and Physics (Mr Foster and Dr McGonigle) who made learning fun, and interesting (commonly going beyond the course) and made me want to study. It also was very helpful to be in relatively small and high-achieving classes. This was especially true for my Higher Level Maths and Physics classes, which pushed me academically as my peers and I were very collaborative in class and on MS Teams. It was also lots of hard work: in the final five months of school, I would study upwards of five hours on weekdays and 12 hours on weekend days.
What was your favourite subject of the IB and why?
Higher Level Mathematics because of the incredibly engaged teachers and very supportive peers. This is evidenced by the across-the-board amazing results in my maths and physics classes. I also just love mathematics, solving problems, logical thinking and processing and I could see consistent improvement throughout the IB curriculum.
What skills or strengths do you think you developed while studying the IB Diploma?
Time management (before Year 11, I never even thought about a study plan); working collaboratively; maths – I went from relatively low scores (~60%) to around 90-95% in my final exams; perseverance, particularly when approaching my internal assessment deadlines, when I was very behind, but I put in a lot of time and effort and kept seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
Do you have any favourite memories of your time at SACS?
Year 9 Snow Camp – I really enjoyed being in the snow and spending time with friends; and playing tennis competitions and tennis training with my friends, which was a nice release from school and school work.
Are there any aspects of St Andrew’s Cathedral School that you feel helped shape you into who you are today?
Going to SACS and doing the IB MYP and Diploma has helped me become more of a global citizen. Also participating in the school’s StartUp programme made me more excited about entrepreneurship in the coming years. Also, the school’s rich computer science offering (even in Years 8-10) has also enhanced my ability to learn more about and excel in the field that I am interested in.
Where are you living in Switzerland and what are your plans for your gap year?
I’m currently living in a Swiss ski village called Saas-Fee, residing with some good family friends. The plan is to work in a restaurant, learn more German and, of course, ski. I also plan to visit the UK and European universities to get a better idea of where I want to study, and spend time with my UK and Belgian family.