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University: University of British Columbia, Canada
School: Christ Nagar International School, India
Cambridge International A Levels in Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology
Went on to:
Career plans: Research in international policy and practice
After deciding to study Psychology at university, Madhumita Varma was faced with the choice between a BSc or BA degree course. Despite a strong background in science from her Cambridge studies, she opted for the BA course, drawing on the wide range of academic skills she had already acquired.
'At school, I studied Cambridge International A Levels in Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Psychology and so I thought I would find the science option easier,' she said. 'In fact I ended up starting a BA degree course and although it had its challenges, I was able to meet these by using the critical thinking and research skills I had developed during my Cambridge studies.'
Madhumita studied at the University of British Columbia (UBC), in Canada, where the Cambridge emphasis on independent study and ‘taking ownership of your learning’ really helped her. Madhumita also earned course credit for her Cambridge International Psychology and Chemistry A Levels: 'UBC recognised that the knowledge I had gained in both subjects was equivalent to the first year of the university course,' she said. 'As a result I was given the option of fast-tracking my university degree with the possibility of graduating earlier than my peers.'
During her time at UBC, Madhumita developed a real interest in international relations, ultimately changing her degree course and undertaking three exchange programmes, while also working as a research assistant for two professors.
After graduating, Madhumita completed a Masters in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland, before starting a PhD in International History and Politics, also at the Graduate Institute, which she hopes to complete in 2025.
'During my Masters degree at the Graduate Institute I majored in global security, with minors in climate, environment, resources and sustainability,’ she said. ‘I graduated in 2020, and I am still on track to realise my ambition of a career in research in order to help inform future policy and practice.'
For Madhumita, her Cambridge education was the ideal starting point for her future career, and as a result she recommends Cambridge qualifications for anyone considering a similar path. 'I certainly think that my Cambridge studies helped me develop the skills, and acquire the qualifications, that were necessary for me to get to where I am today,' she said. 'I think it also has helped that the Cambridge curriculum focused on instilling academic curiosity and critical thinking. These are skills on which I still rely and which students need if they want to challenge paradigms, think critically and learn independently'.
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