Paola García – Santa Tecla, El Salvador

Paola García graduated from Academia Británica Cuscatleca of El Salvador. She is currently in her eighth semester of the program in medicine at José Matías Delgado University in San Salvador. She is very interested in surgery and she is considering pursuing this field, though she hasn’t yet decided in which specialty.


What appealed to me most about the Diploma Programme (DP) were the different combinations of subjects that I could take, as well as the different levels. For instance, I liked taking biology because I wanted to study medicine, so I took advanced biology in order to learn more. The DP opens doors and provides a lot of opportunities, because you can choose what really interests you and essentially determine what your future will be in college.

I felt that in order to be well-rounded, I could choose other subjects based not only on what I wanted to study, but rather what I liked the most and what most interested me. That’s why I chose visual arts and I studied advanced biology. These were the most valuable subjects for me. Biology was useful for my academic career, and visual arts provided a very cultural experience, since the program required us to do research on different artists and cultures in order to express what we wanted. Consequently, we were able to delve into other fields and learn things that weren’t possible to study in other subjects. We were also able to touch upon topics that sometimes can’t be covered in other disciplines.

The DP taught me to organize my time and to plan properly. I feel that I was able to balance my hobbies well in addition to the program.

My visual arts teacher, Lucila González, and my English teacher, Jennifer Horan, were my mentors. They were really good at what they did. They were thorough, and they helped us continue learning and to keep all of the deadlines that we had from becoming too overwhelming. They made the program a very enjoyable experience.

 “The IB Diploma Programme was an enriching experience.”

The DP helped me to be more organized in college. You really can see the difference between the people that have done a program as challenging as the Diploma Programme and those that haven’t had the opportunity to do so. Because we know how to manage our time, organize all of the deadlines that we have, work on multiple skills and to do so under stress. It’s a very enriching academic experience because it gives us the added value of being able to say “I’m in an international program, my school endorses it and they also recognize it in other countries.”

CAS (Creativity, Activity and Service) helped me with college because it provided me the opportunity to have countless experiences which I believe I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for CAS. For example, I geared CAS more toward what I wanted to study. As such, I had more interaction with people, I went to hospitals, I was in contact with children with disabilities and I tried to help people that didn’t have certain services in some communities. It helped me because I became aware of the reality of the country, what it is experiencing, and now I can be a bit more open-minded. I didn’t just study the basic subjects, but instead realized that there are other interests, other ways in which we can be useful or helpful to other people. TOK gave me another perspective on things. Sometimes we are really focused on specific situations and we don’t see that there are other ways of thinking or alternative ways of approaching certain issues.

Thanks to the DP, I developed skills such as working under stress, managing multiple responsibilities and doing several activities at the same time. Because in the program, we had seven subjects and we had to do well in all of them. I learned to substantiate ideas, organize my time, and use it not only for studying but also for other activities as well.

I recommend to those students thinking about studying in the DP to do so. Because it really is an opportunity to further our knowledge. It enables you to concentrate on the fields that you really like. It’s a really great program, because you can choose the subjects that you want to study, at the level that you want to study them, and select the number of activities to do. I didn’t think that the DP would be so useful for me. You leave with knowledge, and you have an advantage over other people that haven’t done it. In addition, at some universities they approve the credits from the DP, so it helps you advance quickly in your education.