Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Meet Özgü Gümüstekin, ISL alumna, TEDx speaker, and advocate for women in STEM

Where are you living now? 
Luxembourg

What did you do after you left ISL?

I began my higher education studies immediately after graduating in 2018, while also keeping actively involved in extracurricular pursuits, such as representing Luxembourg at the 30th European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUYCS) in Dublin that year!

What did you study at University?

I pursued my BSc. In Biology at the University of Luxembourg, followed by MSc. in Biomedical Sciences, at the University of Maastricht. 

What are you doing now?
Currently, I am finishing my Master Thesis on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia at the Department of Cancer Research of Luxembourg Institute of Health, in Strassen. I will commence my PhD in immuno-oncology and molecular biology here in September of this year. 

Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?

I believe ISL thought me the ability to always be on the look-out for opportunities in bettering myself, personally and professionally. The numerous ways in which we were offered curricular and extracurricular opportunities, be it participation in international sports tournaments or leadership academies in the Swiss Alps, gave me the confidence to pursue a career in science as a woman, which is challenging at times. 

What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
I had the recognition of having graduated from a prestigious International School with the world-renowned International Baccalaureate, which opened doors for me when applying to universities or courses, as well as internships and jobs!

What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?

I would advise them (and would have advised my younger self) to try to be involved in anything that they might find fulfilling (clubs, sports, theater, music, peer tutoring, Mérite Jeunesse, etc.)  while also remembering to take care of their well-being and remembering to just be a kid sometimes! I know it sounds like mission impossible, but all you might need to do is ask for help from the excellent advisors at ISL, in organization and time management and I am sure they will happily do so!

Were you engaged in any ISL clubs/activities? What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students? 

I was one of the co-founders of (not sure if it still exists) the Amnesty Club ISL, which at the time was my CAS project for my IB. I think the fact that we are “required” and encouraged to do such activities as a part of our high school diploma is the best incentive in getting us out of our comfort zone- which is not that easy at times. I think this resonated well in my higher education, especially if I ever hesitated to take an initiative.

Please describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning: 

Supporting student well-being and development

Overall growth centered environment and mindset

Teachers that form relationships with students to provide the best possible education, tailored to each student

How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?

I strongly believe that I gained confidence, most of all, which is the foundation of who I am today, and the decisions I made that brought me where I am today. I am thankful for each and every teacher, advisor, and in general, every staff member that offered kindness on a daily basis, always heard out our opinions and never failed to lift us up, encouraging and nourishing our minds and individual personalities. I believe this is ultimately what gave me the confidence in my choices and helped me believe I can do everything I set my mind to. 

What do you think is unique about ISL?
I think ISL is unique in its staff, which is shaped by its vision and mission. 

If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
I would thank each and every one of my teachers individually-which I plan to do so soon at the 60th anniversary alumni event. However, I would especially thank Ms Tess Charnaud; who told me “Let’s do it!”, when my EE idea was rejected by another teacher- with which, I ultimately ended up going to EUCYS to represent Luxembourg, and in a butterfly effect, even had the opportunity to give a TEDx Luxembourg City talk here at the Philarmonie recently. Life is strange and it is the people who believe in us that make the difference!

I would also like to thank Ms Vandeweerd, who encouraged my craziness in taking French B SL, 2 levels above my skills at the time. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone, once again, ultimately opened many doors for me later on; and I learned that a little courage often snow-balls into amazing things!

Please describe ISL in 5 words:

Confidence

Kindness

Excellence

Growth

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