AISG Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Abigail Paras

Elizabeth tells us how AISG has prepared her for the future!

Summer has finally arrived and AISG's Class of 2020 has wrapped up their high school careers with big plans for their future! We'd like to highlight a diverse set of our graduated Rams and find out how AISG has impacted their lives and what they plan to do next.

This week, we speak to Elizabeth Abigail Paras, who was an integral member of the student-run online news publication, The Beacon. Elizabeth is originally from Virginia, USA and has a passion for journalism. Let's see how she recaps the school year and where she's headed next.

With the school year ending, was there any moment or event that defined you, and how did it impact you?

This past school year was filled with ups and downs and definitely didn’t go the way I planned it. I don’t know if I can really pinpoint a single moment that defined this year since it was cut short, but I might just go with the moment I found out I was accepted into my dream school. My friends, family had AISG’s college counselor supported me through the whole college application process, and getting accepted really made me feel proud of myself.

In your years at AISG, how did the IB curriculum affect your feelings towards education?

The IB was definitely challenging, but I think it broadened my mindset and pushed me to be the best that I could be. It was a lot of work over two years, but I’m glad I chose to pursue the IB diploma. It gave me a unique experience that a regular program couldn’t. The experience of doing the extended essay and taking TOK (Theory of Knowledge) was definitely something I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.

Was there a teacher that really helped you become the person you are today? Who was it and how did they affect you?

There are so many teachers that have impacted me positively, but if I had to choose, I’d say Ms. Barga and Ms. Dean. Ms. Dean was my English teacher in 10th grade and she really helped me discover my passion for English and gave me the confidence to pursue it. Her endless energy and constant support made my classes so much more fun. Ms. Barga was my journalism teacher for grades 10 and 11 and she gave me the opportunity to lead The Beacon and helped me discover my love for journalistic writing, something that has stuck with me to this day.

picture of some AISG students in gowns and suits

What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment this school year?

I’d have to say my biggest accomplishment is finishing it in one piece. My senior year has been anything but ordinary, and even though I’m not finishing like I thought I would, I’m grateful to have the support of my friends and family behind me. I’m really happy to have made it to the end. I’m so lucky to be going to my first choice school and to have friends surrounding me no matter what.

What were your favorite extracurricular activities (sports, arts, etc) and how did they help shape the student you became?

My favorite extracurricular (barring my journalism elective) would have to be Quiz Bowl. I joined in grade 10 and immediately loved it. I always loved going to the practices and tournaments and winning and losing with my team. I’ve always loved trivia and this was a way to put all the random knowledge in my head to good use. I’m really going to miss it and I regret the tournaments we missed and not being able to complete this season.

picture of a group of AISG students

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the disruption to on-campus classes, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I had to overcome was moving back to the United States. It was difficult to keep up with assignments when I was 12 hours behind everyone else. Additionally, I function much better when I can see my teachers and interact with a class. I’m simply not built for online learning. Attending online classes at night was tiring, but my teachers were all incredibly understanding and supportive. They were willing to make accommodations for my circumstances and helped me keep my grades up for the final semester.

What did you miss the most being away from campus?

There are so many things I miss from the campus. I miss hanging out in the library during free period and working with my music on. I miss walking to classes with my friends and complaining about our workload. I miss walking into homeroom in the morning when everyone was still half-awake. I miss all my clubs and meetings that I went to every week, and I miss talking with my friends and classmates every day.

picture of some students in class

What were your feelings when you heard students could return to campus?

When I found out that the campus was reopening, I felt a little bit disappointed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to experience it, since I was trapped in the United States. However seeing everyone else back was a little unnerving, since so many things had changed. Everyone was wearing masks and was separated from each other. I understand the necessity of these precautions and I applaud AISG for adapting to the difficult circumstances in the best way possible.

How did you celebrate the end of year/graduation?

I attended AISG’s virtual graduation as a last-hurrah with my classmates. My cap and gown and diploma have all arrived in the mail, and I’m touched that AISG thought of the students who are unable to be in Guangzhou. A call with friends and a celebration with my family followed.

picture of some AISG students on location while on a service project

What are your plans for the summer? Will you go anywhere or do anything special? If so, what will it be?

Planning my summer vacation has been difficult with all the closures due to COVID-19. Should circumstances allow, I’d love to travel in the US over the summer and maybe see a concert. I’d also love to get an internship or some work experience before heading off to college in August. Maybe in a few years’ time, I can do a make-up senior trip with my high school friends.

Where will you be going to college and what are you looking forward to the most?

I will be attending the College of William and Mary in the fall. It’s in my home state of Virginia and I’m honored and excited to be attending. I’m really excited to finally meet my roommate face-to-face and continue to grow my friendship with her and others I’ve met online. I’m excited to choose my classes and join activities that I’m interested in, as well as live in and explore Williamsburg.

What, at AISG, has prepared you for your adult future?

If anything, AISG has taught me to be ready for anything. Constantly changing schedules and assignments and everything else has taught me to always be prepared. That means to effectively communicate with teachers and peers, to understand the importance of time management, and be flexible in case of a sudden change. Being at AISG has helped me develop these skills and I know they’re going to help me through my time in college and beyond.

picture of four girls holding flowers after graduation

What accomplishments do you dream to achieve in the next five years and how will your education at AISG help you achieve these?

First things first, I’d like to start off well at college. I know my work in the IB program has helped me with that, and I feel comfortable taking college-level courses. I’d like to graduate college with a bright future ahead of me and good job opportunities. I hope to be independent and have experience in writing journalistically within the next five years. My time at AISG has definitely prepared me for this since it has always been crucial to aim high and work as hard as you can to achieve your goals without losing sight of your own personal needs.

AISG is proud of Elizabeth and her accomplishments! We look forward to following and supporting her path as an AISG Alumni.

Once a Ram, Always a Ram!

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