Concordia Chronicle Dec 14 2022

Alumni Spotlight: How one elective changed the course of this Concordia Shanghai’s students’ life

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When Sophie Ideker, Class of 2017, decided to take the new Applied Learning (AL) Epidemiology elective course led by teachers Mr. Todd Gordon and Ms. Kathleen Mahoney in high school during her time at Concordia International School 

Shanghai, she didn’t realize how the elective course would play a crucial role in fueling her ambition further to educate others about health and wellness in underserved communities. 

After being inspired by the Epidemiology course at Concordia, Sophie attended Indiana University (IU) to pursue her learning at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City. Her postgraduate plans involve studying Infectious Disease Epidemiology.

Learn more about the accomplishments of our incredible alumni here.

Sophie Ideker Concordia


How Concordia International School Shanghai influenced this Alumni’s success story and outcomes

At Concordia International School Shanghai, we encourage students to become scientifically literate individuals with networking and processing skills that enable them to learn, think logically, and problem-solve in a society where technology and knowledge are constantly evolving.

Our science courses are designed to help students appreciate both the value and limitations of science and technology, reinforcing decision-making and responsible research regarding the efficient use of world resources. These soft skills, besides good grades, are highly valued by universities worldwide and will influence academic success after Concordia Shanghai.

According to Sophie, who was in the first epidemiology course offered at Concordia Shanghai ever, entering into the unknown was a life-altering experience. 

“Because it was a new class, I didn’t know what to expect, but I had a lot of fun learning about diseases and public health,” Sophie says.  

Sophie's class had the incredible opportunity to participate in a visit from the highly regarded international epidemiologist Dr. Mosoka Fallah, who shared insights about working on the 2015 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, further helping Sophie understand some of the courses like epidemiology, the biology of diseases etc. better 

“I remember doing a little booklet-type project on different types of disease-causing agents. It was colorful and informational, and I realized I loved how useful it was, and that made me want to make things like that to educate others in fun and cute ways.“

Concordia Shanghai influenced Sophie’s success in her academic outcomes

Taking influence from both the people around her and the content she was learning, Concordia Shanghai played a large role in shaping Sophie’s future once she graduated. 

“While deciding on where to attend graduate school, I talked to Ms. Rachel Key, who taught biology while I was in high school at Concordia.

She also went to Mailman at Columbia for her master’s degree, and she helped me solidify my decision.”

The student-teacher relationship at Concordia Shanghai creates an environment of care and compassion. This is because our teachers are constantly looking out for the best interests of students. We want our students to succeed in all areas of their lives, both inside and outside of the classroom. Ms. Key helped Sophie decide on Columbia by giving her an actual student alumni perspective on what it's like to attend Mailman SPH.

“I was worried that Columbia's reputation is built on prestige and money, not actual academics and student opportunities, but she assured me that Columbia has a great alumni network and has so many connections to organizations such as WHO that can support my career in the future. “

Concordia Shanghai’s influenced Sophie’s success in her career outcomes

At Concordia International School Shanghai, our High School offers challenging elective courses that span the full range of scientific inquiry, and many students have participated in these courses over the years.  

“I learned what epidemiology was and the potential for an exciting career through the epidemiology class at Concordia International School Shanghai, which later helped me choose my major at Indiana University during undergrad,” she says. 

“Epidemiology is typically only offered as a master’s degree, not an undergraduate degree, but Indiana University (IU) is one of the only schools in the U.S.—possibly the world—that offers it as a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH). As a result, once I started my bachelor’s degree, I always knew I would continue to get my master’s.”

The challenges, influences, and outcomes of this Concordia Shanghai Alumni’s success story

Like many students before her, Sophie’s introduction to Epidemiology at Concordia Shanghai played a pivotal role in her success story and outcomes after graduation. Much of the knowledge and exposure she received from her elective class in high school helped her find her true calling during her time at University. 

Parents should remember that one of the many secrets of helping their child thrive in an international school like Concordia Shanghai is to become familiar with the opportunities and trust the process.

“I started my time at IU planning on a degree in business and soon found that the program wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Then I started going to health fairs on campus run by an organization through the IU Student Health Center called the Peer Health and Wellness Educators. They did all sorts of cool things, like health presentations on STIs, stress management workshops, and handing out condoms,” she adds.

“I knew I wanted to do something like that and improve the health education programming available to students. I knew IU had an epidemiology degree, so I switched  to epidemiology during my sophomore year, and here I am.”

The challenges faced in Sophie's story and outcomes after Concordia  International School Shanghai

During her time at Concordia Shanghai, Sophie found her place in the world, though she admits she chose a challenging path for herself. But supported by the strong academic foundation she received at Concordia, as well as the life-altering experiences she enjoyed, Sophie is happy with her post-graduate decisions. 

“Studying epidemiology as an undergrad was difficult because, as of right now, jobs that are hiring are looking for people to have their master’s degree. Hopefully, that will change, especially when we see the needs revealed by the pandemic, and higher education won’t be such a barrier”. 

Sophie wants to continue her studies in epidemiology so that she can have a hand in shaping the world and make a difference in the way we think about and manage global health crises. The pandemic has shown that we need to be better prepared for global health threats and Sophie wants to be part of the solution.

“I’m proud of my ability to get into Columbia University and continue studying what I love. A year ago, before I decided to apply, that wasn’t something  I believed would be possible, and now I’ll be there in just a few months.”

Sophie’s success and positive outcomes after Concordia International School Shanghai 

Sophie’s decision to stick to her passion and answer her calling influenced her success story and outcomes as an Alumni of Concordia School International Shanghai. The experiences she gained from accepting these academic outcomes after Concordia Shanghai granted her some significant experiences and exposure. 

“I worked at the COVID-19 testing sites at Indiana University, which included directing students on taking their samples and running the lab tests, as well as at a flu shot clinic. I also was able to work on some research projects. One tracked transdermal alcohol concentration using a wearable monitor in university students while drinking alcohol. The major ones I worked on were a COVID-19 antibody study and a COVID-19 vaccine study.”

As a shining example of one of the many Alumni that are living the successful outcomes of their decisions, Sophie’s advice for students interested in taking a similar path or questioning their future success is,  “do what you want to do and grab any opportunities that come your way, even if you don’t think you’re qualified or don’t feel like you belong. The truth is that you  belong, and you deserve to take up space.” 

Also, it’s okay to do things outside your career and major, especially things you love. It helps prevent burnout and keeps you happy. I continued theater during my time at IU, providing a nice balance between my work and studying. “

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