A Conversation with Minerva Student Nathan

Minerva Voices
Oct 17, 2019 · 5 min read

Meet Nathan, a student in the Class of 2021.

Quick Facts

Hometown
Baguio City, Philippines

Class
2021

Major
Computational Sciences — Data Science

Conversation

I chose Minerva because I could not resist the allure of traveling around the world with a multicultural community of interesting people, who also wanted to learn how to solve modern problems. In high school, I was not set on any specific school, and even when I applied to Minerva, I was not even sure that Minerva was exactly what I wanted or needed. But the more I learned about it and the longer I’ve been a part of and challenged by this community, the more I’ve known that this was the right challenge for me. I was fortunate enough that Minerva fit my needs even before I fully understood what I wanted to accomplish.

What do you like about Minerva?

While this is also one of the toughest aspects of my Minerva experience, I absolutely love the global rotation structure of traveling to seven different countries in four years. The opportunity to experience different cultures, lifestyles, and work environments constantly forces me to step outside my comfort zone and set up a healthy lifestyle somewhere I may not speak the language or know the culture. I’m the kind of person who likes constant challenges, and that’s exactly what I’m getting here.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Minerva community? How would you describe the community?

Minerva students are very much like you and, also, very unique. Minerva tends to attract driven people — people who are passionate about a cause, who look to further themselves whether by securing a career, exploring the world, or being avid-learner. Like in any school, you can never fully predict what personalities your classmates will have, but at Minerva students also come from all around the world and different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. In our class, we have very quiet classmates, social butterflies, coding geniuses, and much more. What’s guaranteed though is that we are all open to being friends and helping one another out.

What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?

You may be concerned about the “online” and “flipped-classroom” model of Minerva, where lessons are active and you have to know most of the content before class begins. This is definitely challenging, and if you are not proactive in studying or getting help from friends or your professors, you could easily get left behind. This is how I felt in my first year. I thought my peers were able to study independently and efficiently, and I was ashamed to reach out for help. However, I quickly realized that none of my classmates were studying or doing assignments completely on their own. They went to the professors’ office hours, asked teaching assistants questions, and even asked previous teachers and friends. Eventually, I realized that it was ok to seek support and came up with different tactics. I arranged one-on-one study sessions with classmates, read assignments weeks in advance, and also tried to support my classmates when they had questions.

Why do you think it is important to be a global citizen?

Thanks to the internet, mass globalization is inevitable in our future, and subsequently, the problems we are experiencing now will become even more interconnected. The actions of one, both good and bad, will exponentially affect others, such as climate change, war and displacement, and unrestrained capitalism. For me, being a global citizen not only implies being aware of how these different problems manifest around the world but also requires having the mindset and drive to look for and spread solutions around the world. It’s a large part of the reason why I chose United World College and Minerva. I believe that their mission and focus is exactly that — how to become a global citizen.

What else would you like to share about Minerva?

The Minerva experience is challenging. Like in every other challenging school and environment, it may not be the right fit for everyone. However, if you decide that this is the right challenge for you, you will have a whole network of classmates, upperclassmen, staff, and faculty to support you throughout your journey. These people will continue to believe in you. Believe in that and you will make some of your closest friends and enjoy some of the most spectacular and intimate moments around the world.

Does Minerva feel like a natural/obvious extension of your International Baccalaureate (IB) studies? If so, how?

Minerva is not a direct extension of the IB curriculum but there are some similarities. First, Minerva’s flipped model expects most of the initial learning and effort to be done ahead of class. It’s not always easy to find the answers, but, similar to the IB program, Minerva’s curriculum outlines clear expectations of what you need to know in each subject and the specific resources to help you learn. The main difference lies in the subjects. The IB program offers a wide range of subjects but all of them are traditional, such as Biology or Math. On the other hand, in addition to five broader college majors, Minerva also a wide variety of concentrations, each relevant to modern society. For example, one Computational Science class is CS112, a comprehensive data analysis and decision science course incorporating R, a widely-used statistical programming language.

Why did you decide to attend a UWC school?

My parents first encouraged me to apply to UWC Pearson because they knew it would be the ideal environment for me to grow into a responsible, mature adult. It also followed the rigorous IB curriculum and they knew it would be beneficial for my education and career prospects, along with providing a holistic experience. I also thought it would be cool to live abroad with teenagers from around the world.

Looking back, I would definitely have applied for UWC Pearson again because of my personal growth. It was the ideal environment to explore my independence and learn about my passions. It set the ground for me to learn how to be comfortable being alone and with others. By living internationally and with a highly international student body, I developed a strong sense of cultural awareness and respect for different lifestyles.

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