Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet Ian Kearns

Learn more about Ian Kearns, Alumni (Class of 2020)


Where are you living now and what are you doing?

I’m living in a currently-empty 5 person room in a residence hall in Washington D.C, four blocks from the White House and four blocks from the Washington Monument. I’m well placed to see the action!

I’m a student at the George Washington University, studying International Affairs. In extra-curricular activities I’m an intern at the WRGW Radio Station and am on the simulation writing team for the wargaming organization Strategic Crisis Simulations.

Honestly, it’s been great to just experience D.C as a whole. The culture is rich, the people are kind, and the city is truly unique. Early on when I would walk around, I would read the news first, and then while walking I would see the buildings that were photographed. It has been an amazing time to be in D.C., especially during the recent presidential election.


Do you feel that ISL adequately prepared you for this next step in your life?

Definitely. One of my classes this semester was a mandatory course on writing, and writing the Extended Essay really was a good preparation for the research project I had to undertake for this course. I already knew how and where to cite, how to format accordingly, and how to structure a paper to make the argument flow effectively.

Furthermore, due in large part to my French instruction at ISL, I was able to place into the highest level of French this semester. Because I placed so well in my French proficiency exam, I have now completed my language requirement, which normally takes six semesters.

As well, I was able to incorporate music theory that I learned in IB HL Music into my campus radio show, and my HL History knowledge provided an excellent foundation for my two international affairs classes.

What has been the most challenging thing to overcome since leaving ISL, and transitioning to your new environment during a global pandemic?

I think it was mainly staying healthy in an environment which is equally as anti-mask as it is cognizant of social distancing. I run on the weekends, and need to go extraordinarily early, because at that time weekend visitors have not arrived in the city yet, and I can run (masked) through the national mall without needing to concern myself too much on social distancing. However, I test weekly (it’s mandatory), and always take the necessary precautions upon entry into my area.

Do you have any interesting anecdotes to share about your life at University in Covid times?

My classes were 100% online, and most of the students at GW were remote. However, because of my international status, I was allowed to live on campus, making my experience that much more fulfilling.

Also, in the midst of an unprecedented election season, I have been able to witness future American history unfolding almost right outside my door!

What do you miss most about ISL (if anything)?

I miss a lot about ISL, but mainly I miss the extra-curricular activities.  For example, I miss jamming with the Jazz Band, and am eternally grateful for the TED-Ed Club for building my confidence as a public speaker.

If you could give any advice to ISL’s current Senior Class, what would it be?

My advice to current Seniors at ISL is that if you have an interest in a particular university or program, be sure to reach out to alumni currently there to find out about the transition from ISL to the next step!

Moreover, if I could give my 12th grade-self one piece of advice, it would be “it’s worth the extra work”.






  • Alumni