A Conversation with Minerva Student Menita
Meet Menita, a student in the Class of 2021.
Why did you originally decide to pursue the IB Diploma. What courses were most valuable/memorable?
I originally decided to participate in the IB Diploma program because continuing the national curriculum in my home country, India, would have required me to limit myself to a single field of study. The IB exposed me to multiple Areas of Knowledge and allowed me to continue to feed an inherent passion for learning new concepts and exploring new ideas.
Theory of Knowledge was definitely the most memorable course for me, as it was the backbone of my learning process and overall growth as an IB student. I remember debating whether color is an inherent property of visible light or whether it is just an illusion created by our minds, where we attach visual properties to rays of a certain wavelength range. Theory of Knowledge discussions shifted my perspectives and created new lenses through which to view the world, skills that have been most valuable to me in my journey at Minerva.”
Tell us about how you found your current university degree path — was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue this career?
To be honest, there was no single “defining moment” when I knew that Minerva was the path I wanted to pursue. My high school counsellor introduced me to the university program during one fleeting moment between classes, and though I didn’t think much about it at first, my fascination grew as I did more research into Minerva’s program. Even after I received my acceptance letter from Minerva, I continued applying to other universities. But deep down, I think I always knew that Minerva would be the school I’d end up at. I was drawn to it in the same way I was drawn to the IB. Minerva held the tantalizing promise of allowing me to make autonomous, empowering choices in my educational journey, and I couldn’t resist.
I have not yet decided what specific major to pursue, but the benefit of Minerva’s program is that I get to major in a broad field of study and even create my own concentration if my personal or professional aspirations motivate me to do so. I’m currently learning how to assimilate and analyse information through four Cornerstone courses — Formal Analysis, Empirical Analysis, Complex Systems, and Multimodal Communications — each of which corresponds to distinct skills, similar to the IB’s rationale of having courses correspond to distinct Areas of Knowledge. In a single semester, I’ve learned how to look at large scale problems like climate change and distributive justice through different perspectives, understand how machine learning algorithms work, code in Python, and interpret social behaviours like body language through philosophical and analytical lenses, to name a few. Minerva teaches us through habitual concepts, or ‘HC’s for short, which are essentially strings of iterable tools for thinking. These have stimulated my intellectual and emotional growth and has allowed me to gain skills that I can apply in almost any field of study.
What advice do you have for current IB students? Related to either their studies and/or to considering a degree like yours?
The most important piece of advice I would give is this: pursue combinations of subjects you believe will enrich your life the most. Rather than focusing on choosing subjects that you assume will open up the most opportunities in the future, concentrate on identifying the field (or fields) of study you believe are the most valuable and to which you can make valuable contributions. Anything can become a profession if you identify a niche where you can add value. The IB, like Minerva, strikes a balance between depth and breadth of student learning. This will be most useful to you in the future because it will give you the skills you need to extrapolate information from different fields of understanding and apply them to the areas of knowledge which you profoundly understand and can add practical value to.