Learn more about Catherine Kayser, Alumna (Class of 2010)
Where are you living now?
What did you do after you left ISL?
I moved to Paris for the first 6 months of my gap year.
What did you study at University?
I studied Law, and later specialised in Public International Law (LL.M. at Leiden University).
What are you doing now?
After some years working in the non-profit and legal sectors in and outside Luxembourg, I am now with the Humanitarian Action team at the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. My focus areas include Luxembourg's strategic humanitarian partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), protection issues of affected populations during crises and armed conflict, and International Humanitarian Law.
Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?
My years at ISL have without a doubt had a strong influence on me to pursue law. The social studies and history classes made me become increasingly fascinated by international relations and international justice. In 10th grade I wrote my Extended Essay on the Nuremburg Trials that took place after World War II, and my interest in these issues only grew stronger from there.
You are the first Alumna to be appointed to the ISL Board of Governors. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel proud and excited. I take the responsibility seriously and want to be an added value to the work of the Board - and ultimately to the school. It being my first Board experience, I also see my appointment as an important (learning) opportunity. I will try my best to give back to a school that has taught and given me so much.
What advantages has studying at ISL given you?
My years at ISL prepared me incredibly well for everything that was to come following my graduation - I had gained so much experience in critical thinking, public speaking, solid research, and even referencing. I felt prepared to take on the workload at university, while also continuing to being involved in activities outside my studies.
What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?
Do not hesitate to seek advice and support from your teachers, and trust that you are surrounded by people who will do their utmost to help you navigate through the challenging years ahead. Also, kindness and compassion go a long way. Remember that everyone has the ability to have a positive impact (on your class, your friend, your community, society as a whole...) and that success is relative. Do not underestimate your privilege and power to be part of much needed changes.
Were you involved in any clubs/activities at ISL?
Yes! I volunteered as a light and sound (amateur) 'technician' in Lower School musicals, and participated in high-school drama plays (on and behind the scenes). Moreover, I joined the track & field and volleyball teams, and competed in a number of NECIS games.
I was also part of the Debate club, which was a great learning opportunity. I will always remember the trip to Abu Dhabi, for a debate competition against a local international school. The motion was: 'Money is more important than love'. We defended this motion and won, if I remember correctly. ;) (I do not agree with that statement so the power of persuasion was a big take away from my years at ISL.)
What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I enjoyed helping out, being a team player, and thereby contributing to the activities that make ISL so special. Also, as the academics themselves at ISL can be challenging and time-consuming, participating in various clubs and activities taught me how to manage my time (and energy).
Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:
ISL offers and provides wide-ranging support, including emotional support, to its students; ISL motivates and pushes each student to pursue his or her passion, while helping to strengthen their resilience and ability to adapt. ISL also makes you understand that failure and success are both relative, and that the ultimate objective is to find your own path on your own time - while working hard and staying determined to be the best you can be at whatever you do.
How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?
ISL helped me build my resilience, improve my public speaking skills, and strengthen my critical thinking abilities. It also helped me identify my true interests and to believe in my own potential. Those years at ISL further underlined the importance to contribute to society in a positive manner, no matter what career path I would chose.
What do you think is unique about ISL?
The ability to provide a compassionate and holistic learning environment, that is equitable and attentive to each student's individual passions, abilities and needs.
If you could thank a teacher or staff member, who would it be?
There are many. But if I had to pick only one, I would here like to thank Mr Ian Graham. He has had a big influence on me, even after leaving ISL, and has been an extraordinary mentor. I will always be thankful to him for his invaluable guidance and support.
Describe ISL in 5 words:
Catalyst, Inclusive, Diverse, Excellence, Stimulating