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News > ISP People > Chloé Smidt-Nielsen's Hard Work Pays Off

Chloé Smidt-Nielsen's Hard Work Pays Off

In 2015, for the second year in a row, an ISP graduate achieved the highest points in the IB Diploma. Congratulations on your 45 points, Chloé Smidt-Nielsen!
7 Apr 2020
ISP People
Chloé with the then Head of School Simon Murray and Secondary School Principal Damian Kerr
Chloé with the then Head of School Simon Murray and Secondary School Principal Damian Kerr

This article was first published in September, 2015 on the ISP's website newsfeed. 

"For the second year in a row, ISP was lucky to have one of our students achieve the full 45 points in the IB Diploma. Lucky? Did you just say lucky?

"Yes, getting 45 points truly was pure luck!" Chloé Smidt-Nielsen, who had been predicted 44 points but came out with the full score, exclaims. "When you think how easy it is NOT to get the maximum points, it's actually a miracle that anyone ever receives them. I couldn't believe it when I heard that I had succeeded, as based on how I felt in the exams I was expecting to get a 40! It was very emotional, and I ended up crying and laughing at the same time."

Luck or not, Chloé's success did not come without hard work. While school has always been easy for Chloé, she was quite stressed about the exams, and took a lot of time to prepare for them. "Mr. Mansfield told us in his pep talk that we will get what we deserve, and that really got to me. I do have a busy social life, but I tend to shut it off during exam periods and only meet people if the purpose is to study together. During the IB exams, few of my friends here at ISP even asked if they should be worried about me, but that's just the way I am. This diploma is the accumulation of the past 13 years of education, so this was not the time to cut myself slack!"

As Chloé had already received a conditional offer from the University of Bath guaranteeing entry with 38 points, university access was not adding to her exam stress. "I'm really excited to go to Bath! I feel that in some respect I'm still just a child, and I think the campus life that they offer will be good for me. It will also be nice to have another ISP student starting there at the same time with me."

In Bath, Chloé will be studying International Relations. "My higher level subjects (Economics, English Literature and History) will give me a strong starting point, and the university syllabus looked incredibly interesting. All in all I feel that the IB Diploma Programme gives us extremely strong tools to be successful in life. Through my Danish father and French mother, I have had a chance to compare the IB with the national curricula of these countries, and I feel that this system was much better for me. It gave me the flexibility to study and research into areas that are interesting to me. Also, the core components can really make a difference in students' attitudes and organizational skills."

As an example, Chloé mentions the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course in which the students focus on different ways of knowing and understanding the world around us. "In a traditional philosophy class you are asked to memorize the names and ideas of great thinkers. In TOK, students might do that too, but the focus is on their own thinking, which opens up a broader focus and really gets those grey brain cells to work." While Chloé did get the full seven points in Mathematics, she claims that it is not her strongest subject. "When we were told that our next TOK focus would be on mathematics, I was not very excited. However, researching topics such as the golden rule of beauty, the discovery of key mathematical concepts, and the contradictory results of mathematicians around the world proved to be truly interesting and inspiring!"

For Chloé, the Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) component of the Diploma Programme is equally important. The CAS program requires the students to take time to participate in activities outside of school, and to become active citizens. "My sister and her friends, who also did the IB Diploma Programme, told me that they felt compelled to join associations and become involved in the society when they entered university and started their 'adult lives'. I can see why, as the CAS activities gave me an opportunity to experience the practical work of humanitarian associations and action groups of my choice. For instance, I created an ISP event to support the Amnesty International's write for rights campaign. Instead of the more traditional bake sales, I felt it was important to raise awareness among the students, and get them engaged with the organization's goals. We gave a presentation to all Grade 11 students, and shared with them three different stories of prisoners of conscience from around the world. The students were then encouraged to write letters to the governments holding these prisoners, pleading for their release. I ended up sending out 58 letters written by our students, and felt really good about my accomplishment."

Chloé has always wanted to work in the humanitarian sector, and the CAS activities consolidated her decision. "In the future, I see myself working in a non-governmental organization or think tank, tackling issues like immigration and poverty. I don't think these problems will ever go away, but we really need to focus on finding solutions, rather than building stronger fences. I think there needs to be a complete change of paradigm; the current stagnant discussion is not taking us anywhere, and is based on fear of strangers and lack of creative thinking. We cannot accept that people are drowning in the Mediterranean while we concentrate on building the fortress called Europe."

While Chloé acknowledges that her views are idealistic and that there are many unanswered questions regarding issues like economy, welfare state and security, she is determined to find solutions. "I'm sure there are ways to do things differently, and I know that there is a lot of information and research about this. International passports, legalized routes for refugees and accurate information about the reasons causing immigration are some of the tools we could look at. We must find a way to improve this situation, and I will be studying hard to find one."

Off you go, Chloé, I know you will be working hard to make this world a better place!"

What happened next? Here's a little update from Chloé in the spring of 2020:

Reading the article back, I'm not sure how to feel about how predictable my path in the last 5 years has been. As you know, I went on to do my undergraduate degree in Politics and International Relations at Bath, which I loved. I didn't particularly excel academically :) but I was president of the Amnesty society for a year as part of an incredible team. Our main achievement was the creation of scholarships for refugees after a long struggle with the uni administration. In the summer of 2016 I started volunteering in the refugee camps of Calais and Grande Synthe and have sustained my engagement with a grassroots association, Mobile Refugee Support, whenever possible since then. After my degree I did a civil service doing social work in a welcome center for asylum seekers in Paris. I am now one year into my two-year Master's in Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po in Paris, and will be starting a six month internship in advocacy and strategic litigation for access to fundamental rights in Calais as part of the degree. Once I graduate I'd like to continue in working to defend migrants and asylum seekers rights in a combination of grassroots field work and a legalistic approach (as well as starting a family).

Thanks for the update, Chloé, keep up the good work!

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