An Ode to IB

I love the IB, it’s what got me where I am today, a Commissioning Editor for all things IB. I get to work with passionate authors to create resources that I hope will inspire a new generation.

See us at table 11 at the IB conference in San Diego See us at table 11 at the IB conference in San Diego
I was very fortunate to spend my teenage years at an international school in Istanbul. I was plucked from the UK school system at 14 and never looked back. The IB Diploma meant that I took a much broader range of subjects than I would have taken at A Level, which was certainly painful at times (languages were never my forte!), but it allowed me to explore a path I would not have considered otherwise, and made me a much more well-rounded individual. Inspired by a wonderful teacher, I opted to take Chemistry at Higher Level. Thanks to the IB, I had kept my options open.

When it came to deciding my university future, I chose to follow my newfound love of Chemistry, and in particular, Environmental Chemistry. I received an offer from the University of Reading, without the need for an interview (unlike most of the friends I later made on my course, who had come via the A Level route). Back then, IB was still a novelty, but the way it generates independent thinkers with the skills they need to hit the ground running at university stands strong.  

IB prepared me well for university. Through my Extended Essay and TOK course, I had developed better critical thinking, inquiry, and independent research skills than my UK peers, which stood me in good stead for my final year independent research project in particular. I was much less phased by the mammoth task than my friends were. But most importantly for me, the fact that my IB education had required me to take Maths meant that I did not have to take the dreaded ‘Maths for Chemists’ module, giving me the freedom to choose an extra module to supplement the Environmental Chemistry route I wanted to go down.

I didn’t stop at my undergraduate degree; spurred on by a thirst for discovery, which I’m certain was the result of my IB experience, my next step was a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry. Although I had learnt a lot during my undergraduate course, the independence, deadline juggling, and ambition that the IB had drilled into me is what really got me through the long days (and nights) of my PhD.

I didn’t stay in academia, I did something better. I now work in an industry that allows me to express and build on my love for the IB on a daily basis. I just hope what I do has some part to play in supporting and inspiring the IB spokespeople of the future.


About Dr Catherine Barber
Dr Catherine Barber works as a Commissioning Editor for International Baccalaureate resources at Pearson Education. She has a PhD in Atmospheric Chemistry, and a great passion for international education.

You can meet Catherine in person at the Global IB Conference in San Diego, 26-29 July 2018. Come to Table 11 to say hello! And if you’re not attending, you can follow updates from the conference on Twitter, using hashtag #IBSD2018