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Parallels from the IB fourteen years later

Akua Nyame-Mensah, a Diploma Programme (DP) graduate of American Cooperative School of Tunis in Tunisia, shares how the DP core supported her in pursuing her different interests and building her career as an executive coach.


By Akua Nyame-Mensah

Those of you that are completing the IB programme know all about getting your three-points outside of the main subjects as part of the IB core. I completed my IB diploma at the American Cooperative School of Tunis in Tunisia from 2004 to 2006. It has been over fourteen years since I finished this challenging yet eye-opening program, but I am still benefitting from it and drawing on what I was exposed to.

I knew that after I finished high school, I was going to attend a U.S. university. I did not need to earn the IB diploma to pursue a degree at a university in the United States, but by leveraging my time in the Diploma Programme (DP) I was able to become an even more well-rounded human. Those three points played a big role in that transformation.

Creativity, activity, service (CAS)

“As someone with varied interests, the DP reinforced my curiosity and natural inclination towards learning new things.”

As a student, I was also an athlete and involved in the National Honor Society. I always found time between writing essays for theory of knowledge (TOK), internal assessments (IA)s and my extended essay to pursue my other interests. I built strong processes to stay on top of my many responsibilities inside and outside of school as I played semi-professional football. I currently share many of the productivity and time management behaviors I developed during the programme when working with my clients, such as writing down tasks daily and time blocking based on when you work best. As someone with varied interests, the DP reinforced my curiosity and natural inclination towards learning new things. I currently describe myself, and the clients I tend to attract, as multi-hyphenates, or people that have multiple occupations, passions or interests that they are pursuing. Because of this, I thoroughly enjoyed CAS (creativity, activity (or action back in my time), service.

Theory of knowledge (TOK)

At my school, one of the most disliked (and brain-tasking) classes was TOK, which forced us to challenge our beliefs and the mainstream narrative. Although I once viewed this as a challenge, I find it increasing relevant to my life and my work as an executive coach and strategic advisor. Not only do I use these skills in my coaching sessions, but I also teach and expect its understanding when I work with my clients. All my clients give me permission to ask them challenging questions and hold them accountable to the vision they set for themselves. We work through recognizing how we each have our own perspectives and perceptions of reality. Once we can acknowledge the different intents and expectations, it is easier to take a step back and shift how you approach engaging with others. Utilizing concepts from TOK can be seen as a hard task but doing so will allow you to see and implement alternative viewpoints. At the time, I did not think much of it, but this course completely shifted how I use information to make decisions.

The extended essay (EE)

“The IB programme is not just something you tick off and say you are done with, it will transform the way you think about life and academics”

During the DP, I thought the programme was asking a lot of me, but I am grateful that I was pushed to choose classes in domains that I did not consider myself strong in and that I had an outlet to really focus on my interests in my extended essay. I loved my essay and the research process I went through to write (funny enough) about the positive impact a single powerful leader can have on development.

Looking back, I know it was a privilege to have access to a school with amazing teachers who not only could teach the IB curriculum but also who believed in the philosophy behind the programme. Similar to what we say in coaching, the IB programme is not just something you tick off and say you are done with, it will transform the way you think about life and academics while also forcing you out of your comfort zone. Ultimately, (and we honestly used to joke about this when I was in high school), just like coaching, it is a way of life.

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Akua Nyame-Mensah is a certified executive coach, facilitator, strategic advisor and entrepreneur with over 7 years of experience in diverse sectors such as technology, real estate, agriculture and international development. She has an MBA from the ALU School of Business (Africa Leadership University), a Master’s in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College. She graduated with an IB diploma from the American Cooperative School of Tunis in 2006. Her favorite thing to do is help tech-enabled leaders focus and connect to scale.

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 [email protected]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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