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A DP grad looks at 40: Part two—to alumni

Each year we invite IB alumni to share their experiences, interests and advice with our global community in the graduate voices series. Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Tara McCook returns to share the impact an IB experience makes in world that is rapidly advancing.

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Tara says, “the last twenty years have seen a radical transformation in the way we communicate, work and move through the world.” How has the world changed since your IB days and how have you responded to those changes?

By Tara McCook

“Even though our high school days may be far behind us, some lessons last forever.”

I have been out of high school for more than twenty years and have been a working professional for over fifteen years. That makes me one of those “mid-career professionals” you read about in business publications. So why am I participating in a writing project about high school? What does my time in the Diploma Programme (DP) have to do with my life as a middle-aged career woman?

Almost everything, as it turns out.

As the saying goes, the one constant is change. The last twenty years have seen a radical transformation in the way we communicate, work and move through the world. A staffer of mine showed me a Twitter meme recently: “Name one thing you had in 1999 that you don’t have in 2019.” My response was, it’s impossible to pick just one thing. The entire structure of the world has shifted. My industry, public accounting, has moved from ledger paper and hard-copy files to digital workflow management and paperless offices.

One must be adaptable, curious and open to function in the modern world. So many of our problems as a global society are caused by rigidity, the inability to change and respond to new circumstances and realities. The DP taught me from a very young age to be open and curious, to be unafraid of discomfort and to accept intellectual challenges with grace. These are bedrock skills for success in the twenty-first century and learning them as young as I did continues to be an advantage to this day. If you reflect back on your DP years, I guarantee you’ll see the roots of your current life and work in those lessons.

“We must be open to new things and actively participate in our changing world.”

The lessons of the DP aren’t just self-serving. Especially for those of us in mid-career, we must keep our connection to our curiosity, grace, and openness to be able to contribute to the wider world. We must be open to new things and actively participate in our changing world. We must raise our children and mentor our younger colleagues with adaptability, knowing that lessons are not just taught to younger folks by older folks. The bedrock principle of the IB is intercultural understanding to make a better world. The generations of IB alumni around the world owe it not only to the present day, but also to the future, to live that value every single day.

As DP alumni, we are uniquely prepared to respond to the challenges and opportunities of this moment in time. I challenge you to remember what you learned in the DP and live those values every day. We are connectors, bridging gaps between difference with curiosity and courage. Even though our high school days may be far behind us, some lessons last forever.

See more from Tara’s series of reflections, which were inspired by Jimmy Buffett, on life after the IB by reading her essay to IB students.

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Tara L. McCook is a graduate of Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama, USA. She continued her studies at Christopher Newport University, Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Georgetown University Law Center and George Mason University in the United States. She is a lawyer, curriculum strategist and trainer working in the public accounting industry, and in her spare time enjoys cross-stitching, writing and relaxing on the Alabama Gulf Coast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn here.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at alumni.relations@ibo.org. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

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