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DP Online student thrives in virtual classroom

Maria Delgado’s path as a 17-year-old studying the Diploma Programme (DP) online is one of clarity, determination, and a commitment to holistic education.

Maria is studying with King’s InterHigh – one of the IB’s partners in the DP Online pilot, which has seen students around the world undertaking the first ever fully online Diploma Programme.

From Colombia, and based in Spain, we spoke with Maria and learned how her experiences are challenging the conventions of a traditional school experience. Her journey highlights that education is a lifelong pursuit that encompasses personal growth, meaningful connections, and a profound understanding of the world.

Redefining education and overcoming challenges

“There are several reasons why I researched online education but one of the main reasons was because last year I got diagnosed with chronic migraines. I was in hospital for a long time. They advised me to not go out in the streets because the light is a trigger for me. If there is a lot of sound or noise, there is a trigger for me. Everything you find outside can trigger migraines. They advised me to try to find a school that could teach me online or that did not require me being in a physical class all the time.

I also wanted flexibility in terms of my education in order to continue developing my passion projects. I am a young researcher, and I am actively exploring mathematics from a researcher’s point of view. For this I need time and a fixed place where I can manage everything, and online school was perfectly suitable for that.”

An interdisciplinary perspective

“I was 12 years old when I met my first role model, a pure mathematician and she was one of my teachers. From that time, I knew that I wanted to go into pure math. And while I know that is my plan and I could simply focus on mathematics instead of the different subjects I need to take for the IB, I also want to learn more about other fields.

I think that interdisciplinary is what we are going to need in the future. Life will not allow you to just focus on your main passion. You really need to understand what is going on in other areas. We are part of society, and we should acknowledge that. I think that the IB Learner profile will support us to be the citizens of the future who do not just focus on one field and one passion, but really understand and make sure that we get different perspectives.”

A network of understanding and friendship

“I have always found barriers to making friends because I was just different. When I joined the DP Online I found people who were like me. Some people were different from me, but they were all open-minded and they were eager to get to know how this was going to work.

From the very starting point, I remember that I created a spreadsheet and all of us started filling in columns with things about us and it got huge. So, we know a lot of information from each other, we have video conferences to study, to talk about our work. We have created clubs. We were also making a short film. I now have friends from all over the world that do not judge me.”

Global outreach and community engagement

“I am really into academics, but I also want to make an impact on my society. I have been talking to the Ministry of Education here in Spain to talk about education specifically for neurodivergent minds that I feel get lost in the curriculum some way. I am also part of PhysicsBeyond, which is an extracurricular for international students interested in STEM fields, and there I help manage the community of more than 100 members. I have also been teaching around 100 girls, ages ranging from 12-22, in Nigeria about STEM fields. This was awesome because, I could teach them about technology opportunities that they could get involved in.”

Future goals

“When I was a kid, I did not know what I was going to do with my life. Of course, I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be a singer. And I know a lot of people do the IB because they are not sure what they want to do and want to have more options, but I know that I want to go into pure mathematics. I am also writing two books because being in mathematics does not necessarily exclude liking literature!”

Learn more about the DP Online pilot and our partner organizations.