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Career: Risk analyst based in Boston, USA
University: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA, to study maths and earth and environmental science
Degrees: Applied Maths, and Earth Environmental Science
School: Juanita High School, Washington State, USA
Cambridge International AS & A Levels in Maths, Biology, English Literature and History
Cambridge International AS Levels in Global Perspectives & Research and English Language
Your high school ran a programme of specific Cambridge subjects - how did this influence your choice of degree?
The programme covered a range of subjects across STEM and the humanities. This gave us the opportunity to develop a strong understanding of each subject especially those we studied for two years (for both Cambridge International AS & A Level exams). As a result, my maths and science courses reinforced my decision to major at university in a STEM field.
How did your Cambridge qualifications support your move to university?
They prepared me extremely well. The variety and structure of Cambridge exams meant I was ready for a range of different tests and assignments. The Cambridge International A Level Biology course, in particular, gave me a taste of university-level introductory lab science courses, while my English literature and language studies taught me the importance of carefully interpreting and analysing documents, and how to voice my ideas clearly.
The Cambridge Global Perspectives & Research course was particularly valuable. Although public speaking still made me nervous at university, I can’t imagine what I would have been like if I hadn’t taken this course. The spontaneous debates and presentations, all part of Global Perspectives & Research, made me comfortable and confident when speaking in front of an audience, a skill which proved immensely helpful at university.
Did your university award you course credit for your Cambridge International qualifications?
At Vanderbilt University, courses were measured in credit hours, with a minimum number of hours required for graduation. A typical college course earned three credit hours, or four hours for courses involving lab work. The University awarded me seven credit hours for my Cambridge International A Levels because they recognised that I had already completed some college-level courses at high school. This meant that I didn’t have to take some introductory courses in the first year. It also gave me more flexibility for scheduling and class choices, and the opportunity to take additional study programmes.
Did you also take part in extra-curricular activities at school and university?
At high school I swam, played piano, ran track, took part in orienteering and was treasurer of the feminism club. I continued some of these activities casually at university but also I took the opportunity to explore new interests. For example, I made strong social connections through club sailing, and was treasurer for a year, and worked at the university’s outdoor recreation center where I also volunteered to lead trips. Finding ways to get outside is important to my mental wellbeing and keeps my brain fresh, which allowed me to perform strongly in my studies. Participating in extra-curricular activities was also a great exercise in time management, a skill I now find particularly handy as a working adult.
How did you prepare for your career, and what are you doing now?
I graduated in 2021 with degrees in Applied Maths and Earth & Environmental Science and now work as a Risk Analyst at Verisk, a Boston-based provider of information on insurance risk. I work in client and consulting services where I use Verisk’s catastrophe models on consulting projects for clients such as governments and mortgage lenders.
At university, while I didn’t apply for any internships, I undertook a number of activities which helped me stand out when applying for jobs. For example, I completed a senior honours thesis on probabilistic sediment transport, and during my junior year I studied abroad in New Zealand and took part in an earth systems field camp, an experience of hands-on research was very beneficial for a career in the earth sciences. I also worked as a teacher’s assistant, a great opportunity to demonstrate my understanding of earth science in presentations tailored to the needs of my student audience, a skill I had developed during my Cambridge studies.
Would you recommend Cambridge qualifications to other students?
I would highly recommend Cambridge qualifications as they prepared me extremely well for university. The lab component of my Cambridge International A level Biology course certainly taught me how to design a well thought out experiment, skills which I applied to my senior honours thesis, and continue to use in my current job. The presentation skills gained from the multitude and diversity of Cambridge public-speaking assignments and exams also prepped me for my university courses. Presenting in front of classmates, professors, and students would not have come as easily, especially in my first year of university, if I had not gained experience of this in high school.
And finally, the critical reasoning skills that are an important component of Cambridge studies have helped me to be a more thoughtful person at university, in my career, and in my personal life.
Tell your story - We’d love to hear about your university journey. Please complete the form and we’ll be in touch.