Blanca Jara – Lima, Peru
Blanca Jara is studying economics at Universidad del Pacífico. She is an IB Diploma holder. She obtained her diploma in 2013 from the Colegio Mayor Secundario Presidente del Perú (CMSPP). She hopes to become one of Peru’s top economists in order to contribute to her country’s social growth.
Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma? What appealed to you about the programme?
I have lived in Huacho my whole life. Huacho is a small city to the north of Lima that is known as the “city of hospitality”. In 2010, Colegio Mayor (CMSPP) was founded in Lima and sought to attract the country’s best students with leadership qualities. The first time I heard about the IB was in 2011, when I started at CMSPP, and I immediately knew that the Diploma Programme would help me achieve my goals.
That is when I decided to pursue the programme. It was up to the students to decide whether to take the Diploma Programme, and rising to the challenge was one of the wisest decisions of my life. What appealed to me most about the Diploma Programme was the holistic education that it offered. From the moment that I heard about it, I knew that I wanted to possess each of the attributes of the IB learner profile.
What courses were most valuable?
When I was 15 years old, I still wasn’t sure about what I wanted to study at university. I was equally good at science and language, and I liked to learn everything. As an IB student I decided to take Spanish A: literature, mathematics, English B, information technology in a global society, chemistry and business and management. These courses helped me shape my interests.
Firstly, thanks to literature I became aware of my affinity for reading and how quickly I was able to read. Mathematics showed me that in order to be a good mathematician you don’t need to be a machine; you just have to understand how this subject can be used in your daily life. In addition, English and information technology in a global society helped me to connect fully with the world. I started to read articles in English and by the end of the programme I was able to create web pages. Finally, chemistry and business and management helped reinforce my interests. Thanks to chemistry, I learned the names of compounds, carried out experiments, and now I am able to interpret the famous “safety squares”. And thanks to the business and management course, I discovered that I had good business ideas and that this was the field in which I wanted to work.
Tell us about your current work: was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue this career?
After taking the business and management subject and realizing that Peru was an excellent place to implement my business ideas, I learned that the business world was where I wanted to be. But I still wasn’t sure which degree to choose: Administration, Finance or Economics? I spoke with my IB teachers and they provided me with great guidance. I also enrolled in “career workshops”, and I learned that economics was my thing. It was more interesting to me than any other subject at that time, and it still is.
"From the moment that I heard about the Diploma Programme, I knew that I wanted to possess each of the attributes of the IB learner profile."
Did the extended essay, TOK and CAS prepare you for university? Are there skills that you developed that you still use today?
Yes, definitely. Everyone says that university is a different world and they are right. However, the transition between high school and university won’t be as marked if you are an IB student. When I was an IB student I would complain about how little sleep I got and the constant worrying about the extended essay. However, the research investigation for the extended essay helped me a lot in my work during the first and second year of university. Similarly, having studied theory of knowledge helped me to see things from a different point of view and not just focus on the obvious. Finally, CAS is a very common practice in universities and something that I want to continue throughout my life.
Did you face any obstacles during your education, studies or career? How did you overcome them?
Yes, I did. Nowadays I tend to joke about how demanding the IB Diploma Programme is, but when I was a student things were very different. I have lived away from my family since I was 15 years old, and this, coupled with my time in the IB programme, has been stressful at times. However, these problems tend to occur during the first half of the first year of the IB and then you learn to adapt.
To be able to overcome this stage, IB students should seek the support of their classmates and teachers like I did; and remember the phrase “unity is strength”, because anyone who is able to pass this half of the year is just one step away from receiving their valuable diploma. In addition, anyone who can get used to the IB style can adapt quickly to university.
What advice do you have for current IB students that are thinking about a career like yours?
For those students who are thinking about a career in economics, the main thing is to have an open mind and be very well-informed. It may seem complicated, but the link between economics and the world is surprising. Anyone who has the opportunity to study economics through the IB: do it, you won’t regret it.
Finally, I would say don’t give up. It might sound trite, but there are highs and lows throughout life. You have to know how to overcome them. Each of the students in the Diploma Programme is already a winner and a great leader, since not just anyone would take on such a big challenge, especially at such a young age. They decided to aim for a major goal by choosing to study the Diploma Programme, and tomorrow there will be an even bigger goal. The important thing is to seek out challenges that drive us to improve day by day.