Robyn Miller completed the IB Diploma Programme (DP) at Richard Montgomery High School, Maryland, US. She attended James Madison University and now practices as a Doctor of Audiology, using her skills to support students in public schools.
Why did you originally decide to pursue an IB diploma?
My mother introduced me to the IB programme while I was in the eighth grade. She heard of the very first IB DP cohort at Richard Montgomery High School when she worked for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). Her motivation for exploring IB programmes was to place me with like-minded students who also appreciated a drive for learning. I welcomed the opportunity to begin a new journey with new peers to develop socially and challenge myself academically.
The rigorous curriculum of the IB programme was extremely time consuming. It forced me to develop all my learning and study skills at a very young age. These skills built the foundation for me to sail through undergraduate, masters and a doctorate degree.
What IB courses were most memorable and most valuable?
My most memorable course was world history with Mr Hines. This was my hardest subject but the most memorable because of the passion Mr Hines showed in school for every lecture. In fact, most of my IB teachers shared a common love for teaching students like myself and my peers. Through this class, I learned that it is OK to get a B or a C and that you do not always have to be perfect. This was a difficult lesson for me, as an over-achiever and a perfectionist, but a crucial life lesson.
The most valuable course was Spanish, which included four years of language study at my school. I graduated fluent in Spanish and still use Spanish every day at work. Spanish has helped me to communicate with the families I work with in MCPS, communicate in public and even while on vacation with my own family in the Dominican Republic.
Was there a moment when you knew you wanted to pursue your career?
I always wanted to be a pediatrician when I grew up. In fact, my undergraduate major was originally biology and pre-medicine. IB chemistry and IB biology were my favorite subjects and I knew that I wanted to help people through my career after experiencing the community service activities in which I participated at Richard Montgomery High School.
I realized in my freshman year of college that pre-medicine was not a good match for me since I did not enjoy anatomy and physiology. I determined that I was originally interested in medicine more because it was the highest achievement I could obtain, than because I actually enjoyed the science behind the profession.
I went to the career centre at James Madison University to explore other professions which might be a better match for me. I was introduced to speech language pathology/special education and selected hearing and speech sciences to be my new major. I enjoyed the speech language pathology classes much more than the pre-medicine classes and finally went down the audiology track after taking audiology 101. Audiology is very different than speech pathology in that it is concrete and objective, a perfect match for my personality.
I have been in educational audiology ever since, enjoying every day at work for the past for 20 years. I have found a profession that incorporates my love for helping children, my interest in science and that makes me feel proud. I learned that you do not always have to get the A in classes or be a doctor because that is what others told you was the best. I had to learn to be the best Robyn that I could be for myself!
What advice do you have for IB students and parents?
Students considering an IB programme should look at all aspects of it, including the responsibilities they will take on and the commitment they are making. Be aware of the pros and cons of entering such a rigorous program and aware of the academic, emotional and social impact of the intense demands of the curriculum. I benefited greatly from IB programmes in all areas, but that does not mean that it is right for everyone.
My advice for current IB students is to never give up. It is OK to not always get an A in a class and to ask for help when needed. I received significant benefits from learning to study, work and manage time at such a young age through my IB programme. Lastly, take some time outside of school to do other activities that you enjoy.
My advice for selecting a career path is to explore all the options and not go right for what you are told you should do for a profession or what you think is your destiny as a brilliant child. Many students, like me when I was 17, think that they need to always raise the bar and be the best. Listen to the suggestions of family members and follow your internal compass. Look inside yourself and be aware of the fact that not every smart young person has to aim for a prestigious profession like a doctor, lawyer, or scientist. I am so fortunate to love what I do every day as a doctor of audiology in MCPS and it has nothing to with how others view my achievements or profession.
For parents, allow your children to still play a sport or join drama, even if it means less time to study. A child needs to learn social skills and be well rounded to function well at the university level. Knowing how to study and get good grades does not automatically lead to a child ready to succeed at college or university.