This interview is with an alumnus who graduated in the late 1990s and prefers to remain anonymous. He grew up in in a Chicago suburb. While it had a good school system, during his freshman year his parents were considering moving and IMSA’s residential and academic nature appealed to him. He recalls the admissions process, from taking the SAT, to getting recommendation letters, doing an interview, and ending up on the wait list.
On move in day for sophomore year, he remembers that his roommate arrived first and got the pick of the room furnishings. While they only lived together for one year at IMSA, they were later roommates in college as well. He had arrived with an old laptop that didn’t have an ethernet card, and he remembers being unable to access the internet on it and having to use the school computers instead.
In terms of classes during sophomore year, he recalls the challenges of the Integrated Science curriculum, feeling out of his depth in Spanish class, and a math teacher who would give students the problem and answer and tell them to “figure it out.” All IMSA’s classes presented a new way of learning, working through problems collaboratively, rather than preparing material for tests. He did independently study for and take additional AP tests. Outside of classes, he spent a lot of time working in the Grainger workshop and participated in extracurriculars including Science Olympiad, math team, chess, and sports.
After IMSA, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He started out undecided about his major and eventually picked East Asian Language and Culture. While he had taken a lot of biology and chemistry classes, he decided not to major in either subject and says this was the point he stopped going down a math and science path.
After graduating from college, he got a Master’s in bilingual and bicultural education at Columbia University. He then traveled around, working in different places, including at the Ministry of Education in Taiwan and teaching in the Pacific Northwest. While teaching science at an inner-city school in Texas, he became disheartened by problems in the broader educational system and curriculum. That experience led him back to graduate school at the University of Connecticut to study educational technologies. However, it became clear that the limiting factor in improving education wasn’t technology or research so much as political will. He currently runs a non-profit that aims to facilitate collaborative educational research.
Interviewer: Sara Goek. Duration: 58:43
admissions, alumni, careers, college, curriculum, extracurriculars, math classes, residential life, science classes, sports
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Goek, Sara, "Alumnus (anonymous)" (2021). Oral Histories, IMSA Archives and Special Collections, Leto M. Furnas Information Resource Center. https://digitalcommons.imsa.edu/oral_histories/33