Ibarra-Rivera, Lisa | Biology & College Counseling
Half Guatemalan, half Dutch Antillean, and a true “yu di Korsou,” I was born and raised on the Caribbean island of Curacao, a cultural melting pot just like myself. It was here that a love for culture, nature, traveling, and artistic expression grew out of practice and experience. Though I grew up a beach baby, I had an early fascination with ants, millipedes, and the uninhabited bush area or “mondi” that surrounded our home where I followed lizard tracks, scoped out parakeet nests, and built secret hiding places among the cacti. Growing up in an area with European, African, Latin American, and even Indonesian influences that pervade everything from the food to music and through my family travels, I learnt to appreciate the natural world and the varying cultures in ways that still hold my attention today.
In ninth grade, I moved to Florida to star in my own version of “Saved By the Bell.” I finally had air-conditioned classrooms, campus clubs to join, and lockers to hold books in (just like in the movies), but I was surprised to see how far ahead my curriculum back home had been, especially in the fields of mathematics, science, and foreign languages. I quickly discovered honors and A.P. courses and welcomed the additional challenge and the hard work soon paid off as I headed to the University of Florida. Here, I pursued a degree in Psychology, with a concentration in neuroscience and a minor in anthropology while sample various additional courses in the areas of mathematics and fine art, even completing a semester abroad in the Netherlands, an experience I feel every college student should take advantage of. After working as a scientific illustrator and helping head a family business, I decided to return to school at Florida International University to pursue my second bachelors degree in the biological sciences while working in a genetics laboratory doing research on population genetics and dabbling in some more psychology & philosophy coursework for fun. There philosopher and logician Dr. Xerohemona introduced me to Archimedean and the rest is history!
At Archimedean Upper Conservatory, I have had the opportunity to help organize and sponsor various student clubs, lead the evolution of the college office and admissions program, and am also honored with teaching some amazing students biology. It is with great excitement that I see a solution to what frustrated me so much upon my initial foray into American high schools and I cannot begin to brag enough about the education available to students at this school. I remember traveling home during my high school years and seeing the peers I had left behind reading literature in French while I was still just learning how to use the past tense and speaking of mathematics that would not make sense to again me until freshmen year of college. No doubt, Archimedean has managed to pull together the best of the U.S. curriculum and infuse it with the rigor and challenge of many European systems, establishing a truly unique curriculum that not only delves into enriching fields not covered by most high school students such as Modern and Classical Greek, math taught in a foreign language, and philosophy, all of which cause college admissions personnel to turn heads, but also pushes students to develop greater maturity, solid study skills, and handle a more sophisticated and deeper level of material than most ever will.
It is amazing to see the students’ critical thinking skills and wisdom developing beyond the norm and at such amazing rates. I am convinced from hearing the comments of outsiders who have seen our students in action and watching the amazing and enriching experiences of our students in their summer activities and throughout their college years, that Archimedean is giving our students a significant leg up on not only local, but also global, competition and opening up doors and opportunities for our students that even they are not always yet able to recognize themselves.
Personally, I believe there is nothing more empowering than, as the saying goes, “biting off more than you can chew, and chewing anyways,” and my wish is for our students to realize the thrill in learning and the excitement of discovering the world around them. I hope to continuing being a person that can help these future leaders not only build dreams, but also make them come true and am truly proud to be working at an institution where learning and growth are the priorities and where the leadership, teachers, and staff’s daily altruistic sacrifices and personal dedication to each student are unparalleled, inspiring, and clearly making all the difference.