“We’re not career-driven, we’re life-driven,” says Jarrah Webster (ISPP 2002-2008) when asked to describe ISPP graduates.
Jarrah Webster is currently a Marketing Assistant at Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. She studied English and Drama there, earning her Bachelors in 2011. “My mum says I was always destined for drama when my granddad carried me across the stage when I was just a tiny baby, apparently done often by his operatic society.” Growing up in a family with a flair for drama and stage productions, Jarrah focused on studying what she enjoyed. At ISPP, Jarrah was involved in several theater productions, playing the role of Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, Marty in Grease, and Caliban (a character not in the original script, but created by ISPP’s Mr. Preece) in Return to the Forbidden Planet. Less interested in the acting side of things when she got to university, Jarrah was especially attracted to the theory of drama and applied theater in communities.
After graduation, she was able to get a job with the Public Relations department of the university, where she had previously interned. “It was a fantastic time to join the PR department because Loughborough University, renowned for its sports programs and facilities, was chosen to be the headquarters for Team Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic preparation,” says Jarrah. With all the members of Team GB passing through the university, she was busy organizing events and managing requests from the press. Since then she has helped coordinate the university’s Open Day. “As a prospective student, you don’t realize how much work goes into that day, and weeks prior I was ordering so many different things. It was great fun and stressful at the same time, and in the end I had a great time chatting to people telling them what the university is like.” In addition, Jarrah helped produce the University’s Prospectus by conducting interviews with and directing photo shoots of campus life. “I’ve enjoyed seeing a final product, holding something that you worked on from start to finish.” Jarrah’s dedication to her work is evident in her decision to earn extra marketing qualifications, attending classes outside of work. “I’ve never had to study and work full-time, and this heavy work load is taking me back to the IB years!”
While she isn’t busy with school and work, Jarrah makes sure to travel whenever she can. Last year, Jarrah climbed Mt. Kiliminjaro. “Kili was one of the best and most trying moments of my life. You certainly learn a lot about yourself climbing a really big mountain.” Then just this past month, she and her boyfriend cycled around southern France, getting to know the country in a new and deeper way. Though there were moments of getting lost and feeling exhausted, the French wine, cheese, and scenery made it all worthwhile. “I think that’s what makes travelling great and why most people are probably drawn to it – the reward you get for going that extra mile.”
Jarrah in a field of sunflowers in Southern France in 2013 (her favourite picture from her cycling holiday).
The taste for travel was acquired at a young age for Jarrah. Being the daughter of international schoolteachers, she has lived in Malawi, Hungary, and Cambodia since being born in London. As many of us know, growing up in the international school community has its benefits and drawbacks. There is the well-shared struggle with trying to answer the question “where are you from” without it becoming a ten-minute conversation (which can be both fun and tiring, depending on who’s asking). Then there is the hardest thing about having an international family: “Your parents are still out there, and you have to come ‘home’ to the ‘real world’. I try to talk my parents every weekend, but it’s not the same as having them close by and seeing them often.” However, this can be made up by the fact that Jarrah now has friends all over the world. “I love that about my life, that I know wherever I go, there will be a friend nearby,” she affirms.
Making friends from different places was easy to do at ISPP, and was one of the things that made it special to Jarrah: “Living in England, I see that there are many different nationalities here, but they don’t mix very often. But at ISPP, I knew Koreans, Japanese, and Australians, and they were my actual friends.” Surrounded by this diversity, one of Jarrah’s biggest regrets from ISPP is not trying new foods: “I remember being quite picky. I always had toasted cheese or peanut butter sandwiches in my pink lunchbox from England.”
In addition to the relationships she made with her classmates, Jarrah can’t forget the impact of her teachers on her life. She explains, “Because my parents were teachers, a lot of the other teachers were like my family.” Rattling off some of her favourites (Ms. St. John, Mr. Preece, Madame Taylor, Ms. Xanthe…), Jarrah acknowledges the extra efforts of many teachers who took time after school to support her with her IB studies. “When you’re little, like in grade 6 and 7, teachers seem so big and far off. But as you grow up, you get to relate to them much more and have normal conversation,” she reflects.
Turning an eye to the future, Jarrah admits, “[Marketing] isn’t something I’ll do forever, it’s more of a stepping stone to what I want to do next.” She knows she would love to work with a non-profit organization at one point, but until then, she is focused on getting the most out of all life experiences.
A group shot of Jarrah and her fellow ISPP cast mates after a performance of Return to the Forbidden Planet in secondary school.