IB Diploma Programme alumnus Levent Ozan completed his university studies at Boston University and is currently pursuing graduate studies in international relations. His IB coursework inspired a passion for in history, economics, and political science and shaped his current career interests.
Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma? What appealed to you about the programme?
I chose an IB diploma so that I would stand apart from others in today's competitive educational environment. There is appeal to an IB diploma both because it is well-known and because of the unique and engaging coursework it offers in comparison to other educational systems. Theory of knowledge (TOK) and creativity, activity, service (CAS) are good examples: TOK engages the intellectual level of a student, and CAS engages students socially and physically. This is something that is rarely seen in other systems.
As an IB student, how did you shape your Diploma Programme studies to your interests?
Before I went to college I was determined to pursue a medical degree. However, since medical schools want an undergraduate degree I had to choose a major. I happened to choose political science, which interested me the most. I had already taken higher level (HL) history and what I learned really made me stand apart from the rest of my class. This is because HL history was not about forcing us to memorize historical events. Our history course was defined by using political knowledge. To understand the Israel-Palestine conflict or the Cold War, we had to understand the underlying political atmosphere. This convinced me to switch career paths.
Who inspired you the most as an IB student? Did you have a mentor or teacher that left a strong positive impression?
Both my German and English teachers influenced me by not only teaching the course but also teaching me how to learn for the rest of my life. They showed my class that there was more to the world than only one way of thinking. They showed me that even with diversity there is still a neutral perspective. It is this neutrality where people of all cultures can find commonality. The IB students from other countries that I have encountered during my studies have shown me that such common ground is possible. Just talking about our shared IB experiences instantly establishes bonds.
What advice do you have for current IB students that are thinking about a career path like yours?
The advice I have for all IB students who would like to follow my line of work is to really focus on IB courses in history and economics. These two courses can provide outstanding advantages for students [compared to] other students or other work candidates. This also goes for TOK, CAS or the extended essay, which are massive achievements. A good extended essay can make all the difference for university applications and help students excel in relation to their peers. Not every high-school graduate can boast about writing something as comprehensive as an extended essay.