Interview by Abdallah ABDELWEDOUD
Abdallah ABDELWEDOUD: How did you get to hear about BSL?
Meza MOUKPE: I got to hear about BSL through its students and staff members who frequently walked by the swimming pool I used to go to at La Caisse (now called Harmonie Signature); seeing their uniforms and hearing them speak in English sparked my interest in what school they attended.
AA: What school did you attend before coming to BSL?
MM: I completed high school at College Protestant Lomé Agbalépédogan (CPLA) in Togo before joining to BSL.
AA: Did the school live up to your expectations – your parents’ too?
MM: Yes, it undoubtedly has. The school has played a major part in my personal and professional development and opened my mind to a diverse environment full of people with different nationalities, languages, and cultures.
My parents were satisfied too. Parents always wish the best for their children's success, so they were very pleased with how things turned out after the IB despite their initial concerns about language struggles.
The school has a rigorous academic culture. I can confidently say that it has exceeded our expectations.
AA: Was the transition from a French speaking school to an English one easy for you?
MM: More or less, I would say. I had taken English classes before coming to BSL but had never practised conversing with native speakers, and there is a noticeable difference between theory learning and actual practice. I still remember my first day when I was struggling to understand what others were saying, either due to their intonation and the different accents. I think I only really felt comfortable with the language at the end of my first year (Year 12). Frequently conversing with native and fluent speakers definitely helps understand nuances in the language.
AA: How long were you at BSL for?
MM: I was at BSL for 2 years from 2015 to 2017.
AA: Did you do the IB programme - if you did how helpful in the end was it for you?
MM: Yes, I did the International Baccalaureate programme at BSL, and I must say it was quite an intense experience. The programme requires candidates to be versatile and all-rounded in their abilities, as you may have seen in the IB learner profile, performing at a high level academically while also nurturing your personal development through extracurricular activities like CAS. It has exposed weaknesses I did not know I had and showed me growth opportunities not only as a student but also as a human being through service to my community, and this is a lesson I value to this day. The programme, therefore, taught me how to have a balanced lifestyle by putting resources equally into my professional and personal development.
The IB is something I would highly recommend doing when going into higher education because it gives you a significant head start in life. The process may be challenging, but it is incredibly rewarding in the end.
AA: Are there any fond memories you have of BSL you would like to share with us?
MM: I enjoyed spending time with teachers outside of classes to discuss various topics related to their field of expertise. So, I have fond memories of discussing the real-world applications of maths with Mr Rao, talking science and technology with Mr Wamukoya, doing random experiments and chess battles with Mr Anquandah, arguing about language inconsistencies with Mr Missodey and Ms Tusiime, etc. I miss them all!
I also loved the Interhouse games and the sheer variety of activities they offered. It was a nice pace change from studies, and I loved teaming up with different people with different abilities to coordinate and come out on top.
AA: What university did you attend and what did you study?
MM: I attended the University of Bath in the UK, where I followed a Mechanical Engineering course for 2 years. I later decided to study towards a master’s degree in Manufacturing and Management on top of my Engineering course to acquire experience in project management and advanced manufacturing technologies such as Laser Machining, Additive Manufacturing, and Composites.
AA: Did your education at BSL, the discipline, diversity and the school’s ethos ever help in your university experience?
MM: Most definitely! The extensive knowledge I gathered doing the IB at BSL eased my transition into university life, especially during my first 2 years. I found a lot of familiarity between the subjects I had learned in school, especially at the Higher Level, with what was taught at university. So, instead of having to learn new concepts from scratch, I already had a head start, and lectures felt like revisions to me.
Furthermore, the school constantly encouraging students to take initiative, undertake and manage projects through CAS, and be leaders, in general, contributed to my management experience. For example, being a school prefect allowed me to gain the necessary leadership skills to become a peer mentor at university. I could then transfer this experience to my mentees, in turn developing their potential.
The diversity in the school also allowed me to develop people’s skills that are valuable in the much larger and more diverse environment that is university. Whether it be in group projects, societies, competitions, or everyday life, my experience at BSL has allowed me to thrive in multidisciplinary and multicultural environments, to connect knowledge between different individuals without much trouble.
AA: Did you start work immediately upon completing your university studies?
MM: Not full-time yet. I am currently taking a course to obtain my APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) from the Association for Project Management while working part-time with Team Bath Racing Electric as a mechanical engineer.
AA: Do you have any personal achievements you are proud of and want to share with the readers?
MM: The achievement I am currently most proud of is winning Formula Student UK last year in the Artificial Intelligence category. Having worked within a multidisciplinary team to build and race a driverless car, competing against hundreds of universities, and succeeding at such a daunting task fills me with incredible pride.
AA: What have you settled on doing now and where are you presently living?
MM: I am currently in Bath, a lovely and quiet city, to obtain my Project Management Qualification. I plan on eventually starting an engineering and management graduate programme either in the aerospace or automotive industry, as I believe these are key industries that will help shape our world into a sustainable global village.
AA: Do you have any words of advice for BSL students, especially the IB students?
MM: Keep pushing and never give up! Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. Effort and hard work always pay in the end.
AA: Thank you so much Meza, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. All the best to you in your future endeavours!