The uniqueness of Stamford’s education pathways and its welcoming, inclusive environment helps students create their own future. Here’s how.
When it comes to prepping students for university life and beyond, the folks at Stamford American International School have it all down pat. The school gives students of all abilities the chance to succeed with unique education pathways and supportive teachers who are there to inspire. Nobody knows this more than 2021 graduate Akhil Venkatesh, who’s headed to the prestigious University of California, Berkeley where he’ll double major in Economics and Data Science.
We spoke to Akhil about his experience at Stamford American over the past six years and how it’s prepared him for university life and beyond.
1. Hi Akhil, which education pathway did you choose at SAIS?
The unique advantage that a Stamford education provides is the opportunity for students to utilize the multitude of pathways offered. SAIS is the only school in Singapore to offer the AP, BTEC, and IBDP curricula concurrently.
I enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Grade 10 and the IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) for Grades 11 and 12. Undertaking coursework in various programs of study exposed me to different methods of learning, which contributed to my holistic perspective.
2. What did you love most about being a student at Stamford?
The welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment convinced me to join and remain a student at SAIS all these years. I felt a sense of belonging during my time at Stamford – that my ideas mattered, and my voice would be heard. I most loved being able to develop new initiatives at school and work with a diverse range of people; many of whom brought to the table a unique set of skills and differing perspectives. Knowing that I have friends and classmates who will be charting distinct paths of their own across the globe is a remarkable feeling indeed.
The teachers and faculty were huge sources of encouragement. They were always there to help whenever we had questions in class or were ambitious to start something new at the school. It was the little things that the staff at Stamford did to make our lives as students a tad bit easier that I appreciated the most.
3. What SAIS experience was most important to you?
Most students know me for my involvement in MUN, Chess, NHS, and other activities. However, the most important experience at SAIS for me was being a part of the Vision 20/20 Strategic Planning Task Force. I was invited by Stamford’s administration to join a select panel of 5 students across the school to work with a group of parents, teachers, and education specialists to recreate the school’s vision and mission. We were tasked to better align it to the students’ current needs.
We came up with the currently standing ‘Vision 20/20’ which reads: “Inspiring students to create their unique future.” This enabled the opening of programs such as the BTEC diploma, expansion of the pre-existing blended program, as well as the introduction of Stamford-specific courses. It was an insightful way to contribute to establishing a new purpose for the school and its future graduates.
4. What personal achievement are you most proud of?
My participation in Model United Nations (MUN) has played an integral role in my time at Stamford. Serving as Founder and Secretary-General of SAISMUN – Stamford’s very own MUN conference – these past three years has been a challenging yet fulfilling journey. We welcomed just around 100 delegates to our first iteration in 2019. Since then, SAISMUN has grown rapidly, hosting 500 participants from more than 20 schools across 7 countries for the third iteration. For the first time, Stamford hosted delegates virtually through Zoom.
For the 2021 edition, our team partnered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Four resolutions were produced in committee that will be put forth before a jury composed of UNHCR members, young refugee leaders, and independent experts. Additionally, SAISMUN was able to raise over SGD 1000 for the UNHCR. The proceeds will be directed towards supporting the internally displaced and providing access to safe shelter, education, training, and healthcare to help reduce their risk of being exploited and trafficked.
Undoubtedly, this achievement has been quite personal for me, but it has also been an achievement for all the outstanding individuals who have contributed to the successful iterations of the past three years. It is one thing to have an idea; another to execute it. Without the help of Stamford’s cross-business functions, our teachers, administration, senior Stamford management, and my creative, determined team, SAISMUN’s success would not be a reality.
5. How do you think the IB curriculum/other pathways prepared you for university life and beyond?
Beyond the academic knowledge, you develop essential critical thinking skills – questioning the validity of what you are learning and becoming more aware of your surroundings. You learn to be efficient with your time, having to manage a plethora of deadlines. The IBDP teaches one to clearly communicate their thoughts whilst simultaneously remaining open-minded.
I believe the skills that I have learned throughout the past two years will be of great importance as I transition to university. While my plans for the future may not be set in stone, I do know that I have a strong foundation and a passion for what I do, which will serve me well regardless of what I may choose to do in the future. Traits that are associated with my graduating class, such as “resilience” will be useful throughout my life. The learning will continue, as no old roads lead to new directions.
Thank you, Akhil!
This post is in partnership with Stamford American International School