Prelude: I finally got my interview done and it was worth the wait, Kristen was a great source on the life of an IB student and I’m just happy it all worked out despite Nature literally against us. The opening paragraph, if it seems familiar, is taken straight from a previous post.
A Valrico teen took the academic plunge and made it out the other side; this is what she has to show for it.
Signing your soul away for four years of your life in a gamble for college applications isn’t everyone’s idea of a good bet. Kristen Gaertner, and hundreds like her in the Tampa suburbs, readily jumped at the chance to join Strawberry Crest’s IB magnet program, and made it out four years later with a shiny high school diploma. Now with a summer job and dream college shortly in her future, she’s taken the time to reflect on the past four years of all-nighters and cement-block backpacks.
“I decided to join the IB program because I thought it would be a lot of fun and a lot of work, but I thought the challenge would be good because I did well in Middle School and was top of my class,” Gaertner recalls with a smile. “I felt really excited when I got accepted, and I thought it meant that this was a program meant for me.”
Throughout four years of rigorous coursework and endless examinations, she still found time for extracurriculars in theatre and chorus, snagging spots in plays and musicals, and refused to quit dance after a ten-year streak. IB wasn’t going to stand in the way of her passions. “I thought the magnet program would be like a more intense version of high school… I was right. But I had also underestimated it.”
IB wasn’t to be brushed off, she says, complacency is your worst enemy. “The worst moment was when I failed my first chemistry test, it was a D. I was so upset with myself because I had never gotten a grade that low before. I thought I would fail chemistry.”
To her, there was no dropping out to traditional high school where so many of her colleagues had gone before her, some regretting it, some claiming it was the best decision of their adolescent lives. “This was it,” she said, “There was nothing to drop out to.”
For every low there was a high. “It would have to be when I found out I got a 7 on my IB biology exam, because I had studied so long for that test, and biology was my favorite subject.” A 7 is the highest score possible, she couldn’t have done better, and in her eyes, about to enter another long four years of education, it looks like it just might be worth it.
Looking back after walking across the stage to get her diploma, she summed it all up with one final remark: “I felt super excited because the four worst years of my life were behind me.” She had graduated with honors near the top of her class, a near-perfect unweighted GPA and the college credits to show for it. “I don’t have to take an English class for the next four years, I’m so excited.”
Boston College will be ready and waiting in the spring to add her to their ranks, an IB graduate with plans to use her experience and vows to continue her successes through higher education and, “Catapult myself into the CDC and become a virologist.”