LIFE AFTER KELLS
I initially joined Kells Academy in the fall of 2001 for a six-month school exchange. As I am from Germany, the purpose of this experience away from home in a foreign country was for me to improve my English and French language skills. However, I soon realised that I wanted to extend my stay in Canada and made the obtaining of a high school diploma at Kells Academy a personal milestone. Despite some struggles with courses such as Math 536 with Mrs. Styliaris, Economics and Biology with Mr. Robertson, and other subjects such as the History of Quebec and Canada, I eventually graduated from Kells in June 2002 and later went home to Germany to continue my education.
Following my return, my priority was to maintain my newly gained language skills and after deciding that the German school system really wasn’t for me, I entered the Bonn International School in 2002. Similar to Kells, this school was filled with students from all over the world, an environment that I have very much enjoyed working in ever since spending time in Montreal in 2001. After receiving numerous prizes such as the “Student of the Year Award,” the “European Council of International Schools’ Award for International Understanding,” and an “Award for Demonstration of Outstanding Sporting Values,” I finally completed my bilingual international baccalaureate and graduated top of the class in 2004.
After spending these two years back home in Germany, I thought it was about time for a change of wallpaper once again. Therefore, I started studying aerospace engineering at the University in Sheffield in the United Kingdom, a country that I had previously never visited. The aerospace engineering degree course was great fun and offered various opportunities not only to design and build mini unmanned aerial vehicles, but also to apply my engineering knowledge and creativity to help people with disabilities. I graduated with an MA Engineering (honours) degree in the summer of 2008.
So where am I now, nine years after graduating from Kells? I’m still in the United Kingdom, working as a mechanical engineer for Thales Group, a multinational company and major player in the aerospace and defence industry. I love my job because every day I get to design cutting-edge technology for both civil and military customers. It’s a great experience to see something that I have designed on a computer come to life in the real world being used on an everyday basis. Apart from my day-to-day job, I also get the opportunity to work closely with schools to promote engineering as a profession. Judging science fairs is, therefore, as much part of my job as is working with teams of students that participate in competitions such as electric-car races.
I have no doubt that my year at Kells Academy was instrumental in helping me to achieve my goals and shape me into who I am today. Being away from home for a considerable amount of time at the age of 16 has been a great learning experience for me and I would strongly recommend spending a year abroad to anyone who gets the opportunity.
Looking back at the last nine years, it is apparent to me how important it is to maintain contact with old friends. It is easy to lose touch after graduating from high school, as people move on to go to different schools in various parts of the world. I am currently planning the 10-year reunion of the Kells Academy Class of 2002 and cannot wait to see my classmates again and find out what everybody is up to.
It has also become clear to me how important it is to make things happen for yourself – using the opportunities that you are given but also creating opportunities if you get stuck – in order to keep developing personally and professionally. After all, “obstacles are those frightful things that you see when you take your eyes off your goals” (H. Ford). I’m sure Kells will give you all the tools that you need to be successful in life, but it’s up to you to make the best use of them.