Shared at this year’s Benefit Dinner, here are a few highlights of Jessica Isaak’s (‘09) alumni perspective.
“I arrived at MBCI begrudgingly. If my grade seven self had been allowed to choose, I would have marched right back to my previous school, with its familiar faces, routines, and friendships.
It was uncomfortable. The hallways felt like a maze, there were so many new names to learn, and I was finding school work to be difficult. Not just time consuming, but difficult. But then September turned into October, and October into November, and a few things began to happen.
The school became less maze like and the faces became more familiar. As middle school turned into high school, I discovered that I absolutely adored singing in a choir (be it junior vocal group, concert choir or chamber singers), that I loved putting on a Hawks jersey and being part of a team (even if I wasn’t the teams’ greatest asset), and that I actually really liked to learn.
Whether it was theological concepts, musical melodies, calculus, or volleyball, high school for me was a constant cycle of being faced with a problem, and being expected to work hard to find a solution. Every day my teachers facilitated the constant repetition of this process.
And then I graduated! ‘The hard part is over!’ I thought. But then I started University, and this too was uncomfortable. The faces were once again unfamiliar, the campus actually was a maze, and the classes were difficult. While I didn’t have an amazing team of teachers who were personally invested in my learning like I had at MBCI, I had the habits built over time, through the continual process of being confronted with a problem, and problem solving my way toward a solution.
A few years later I started law school. Unsurprisingly, this too was uncomfortable. I spent most of law school figuring things out just in time to move on to something new, constantly feeling like I was playing catchup. I would read myself in circles, utilizing every single mental technique I knew to straighten out and make clear the concepts I needed to learn. But this was okay. Three years later and I finally felt like I had gotten a grasp of what I was expected to know.
I graduated last April, and obtained my first Monday-Friday “adult job” as an articling student. What has become very apparent since I left the halls of MBCI is that being thrown into unfamiliar surroundings and faced with new challenges is, simply put, a part of life. But when properly equipped, these unfamiliar situations are no longer daunting tasks, but exciting opportunities.
I can point back to the very moment in my grade 11 biblical studies class when I learned how to wrestle with a difficult problem. I can recall countless moments where I was encouraged by staff and teachers to work harder, or think bigger. I know that many of the things I have been able to do since leaving MBCI are the result of what I learned there, be it in the classroom, the gym, the hallway, or the stage of Jubilee Place.
I am incredibly proud to be an alumni of this school. My friends and family can attest that I never miss an opportunity to talk about the accomplishments of individual students I have the pleasure of knowing, the achievements of the various athletic teams, or the accolades collected by the music departments.” By Jessica Isaak (‘09)