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Oh the things we have been up to…

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

Happy New Year everyone! It has been a while since I last posted and there is so much I want to catch you up on! In the University Relations world, Marie has been a busy bee on university visits to the New England and Atlanta regions, educating professionals about the IB and how to better serve students on their campuses. She has also begun visiting 2 year institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Mid-Atlantic region as a part of the IB’s effort to increase awareness of the different pathways successful IB students can take in post-secondary studies. Awareness and action campaigns are integral to our work. They help policymakers understand the breadth of the IB in order to create recognition that is favorable for students in the Americas region.

As a part of these campaigns, access to high quality education programs for students always remains at the core of our purpose. To help advance this, I wanted to share a pilot initiative that Marie and I worked to lead this past December. We titled it “Open Your Horizons: The College Search and Application Process.” Below is a recap of our first student workshop!


Fairfax Flyer 2015


Here are some words from Marie on the genesis of this project: “I have always seen IB as a great way to create access to higher education for all kinds of students. In the case of low-income and first generation students in the United States, we have been trying to figure out the best way to support IB coordinators, counselors and teachers who are working hard to help our students excel and have great options for college. In that spirit Rachelle and I, along with our College and University Relations Committee, partners from NACAC, Center for Student Opportunity, and, university admissions colleagues came up with a suite of workshop collateral that we are going to eventually make available to the IB community. I am truly grateful to Fairfax County Public Schools for giving us the opportunity to run a pilot with their IB students. It was definitely a highlight of 2015 for me.”


Kara Turner, Morgan State University speaking at Lee High School

For me, and I am sure for the experience of many public school students, the process of college advising can be a bit haphazard. As an IB student, I was expected to just “know” how to navigate the process and how to make connections about my IB experience on the college application. It was driven by the perspectives of my peers, parents and messages I received from varying (oftentimes unreliable sources). This is why these workshops were so important to me. IB students need support too and particularly for low-income and minority students this need is heightened.


Debra von Bargen, Stanford University at Annandale High School; Marie Vivas at South Lakes High School,  Rachelle and Paul Campbell at Lee High School 

Taking into account the context of the school environments and the numbers of students we interacted with, these workshops provided a comprehensive introduction to the four topics mentioned above. It was with the intent that students should begin thinking about these issues early in their planning process and the messages should be revisited often to refresh their memory as senior year approaches.

The workshops were an amazing experience and we want to give a BIG thank you to all of the volunteer presenters from college, universities, schools and community based organizations from all over the region.  This could not have been possible without you! As we plan to run another set of workshops with a neighboring district, we are excited to revise and make the content and student activities more fruitful. The work continues!



My favorite picture from Annandale High School, I had a blast the students were awesome!

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