For getting straight A’s throughout high school in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program, Mikaela Carrillo has won a $10,000 scholarship honoring her as Northern California’s top junior or senior IB student.
The announcement was made today, March 16, by Inderkum IB Diploma Programme Coordinator Jessica Downing at a brief gathering of the school’s IB students.
Mikaela won the $10,000 award for academic excellence, but the 17-year-old also has tutored young children at a low-income apartment complex, helped establish a volunteer program for elementary students, and played on the school’s varsity soccer team.
In a letter recommending Mikaela for the honor, Downing described the graduating senior as “one of the top students I have encountered over the past 25 years” and added, “Mikaela has impressed every teacher she has encountered.”
Mikaela, 17, wants to be a doctor someday, specifically an Obstetrician-Gynecologist. She has researched approaches to childbirth across history, job-shadowed at a hospital, volunteered extensively at a clinic, and invited medical professionals to speak to students about careers.
“She’s also incredibly humble and may not say so herself, but she is one of those students we can be quite sure has the desire and ability to make the world a better place for all,” Downing wrote.
The California Association of IB World Schools (CAWS) offered the $10,000 scholarship won by Mikaela. Formally known as the CAWS Garry Prather IB Student of the Year award, Mikaela was Northern California’s winner in the Diploma Programme division for juniors and seniors.
Mikaela spends an average of more than 20 hours weekly on homework in the challenging IB program, about three hours a night, weekdays and weekends, she said.
“I feel a lot of people think teachers or schools are responsible for their learning or achieving, but through IB, I feel I’ve come to understand that learning is my responsibility. It’s my job to go out and study, research, and put my full effort in so I learn for the sake of me.”
IB is a world-class academic program honored by top universities worldwide. It strives to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.
The Diploma Programme is a two-year course of study that requires advanced study in languages, mathematics, history, art, and social and natural sciences. Participants also are required to complete in-depth research – designed to prepare them for college-level research – and to participate in projects involving creativity, action and service.
IB has expanded her academic horizons, Mikaela said in an essay submitted as part of the award’s application process.
“Whether it’s through exploring the ethical considerations of a new medical procedure, arguing whether legal or social action works best in fighting for civil rights, or examining the ways of knowing involved in production of art, the emphasis on exploration has helped me to develop an open mind and to more deeply appreciate the diversity of ideas in the classroom and in society,” she wrote.
Downing said Mikaela’s scholarship reflects favorably on Inderkum’s IB program, which graduated its first Diploma Programme students last year. “It says we’ve reached the level where we can put a student up who’s just as good, just as strong, just as qualified as any other school,” Downing said.
Mikaela’s scholarship marks the second major honor involving an Inderkum Diploma Programme student this week. Tyler Christensen was notified March 15 of his selection to the U.S. Air Force Academy, which will provide him a free $416,000 education in return for a commitment to serve as an Air Force officer.
Mikaela participated in Inderkum’s IB Middle Years Programme before advancing to the Diploma Programme, so she has challenged herself with academic rigor from the first year she entered high school.
Asked to describe Mikaela, her mother Milly said she’s hard working, organized and “goes the extra mile when she needs to.” Her father, Mark, called her “tenacious.”
“Whatever she sets her mind to, she tackles it with everything she has,” Mark Carrillo said. “That’s what I’m most proud of when I look at my daughter. She goes full bore on everything she commits to.”