Rachel Brady (CHS '08)
Rachel Brady was a student in the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme at Robbinsdale Cooper High School and graduated in 2008. Now a junior majoring in sociology and theatre at Concordia College in Moorhead, Rachel will spend part of the coming summer in a service program in Rwanda, then as a Nobel Peace Prize Scholar in Oslo, Norway.
Q: You have a passion for international peace and justice issues. Was the International Baccalaureate programme at Cooper influential in developing that passion?
RACHEL BRADY: It definitely was. IB instilled in me an eagerness to explore and the curiosity to learn about the world from a global mindset. It challenged me to think critically. As a result, the academic transition to college was really easy, and I give IB credit for that.
Q: So the roots of your current major in sociology were right there at Cooper.
RB: That's right. I found myself in IB classes at Cooper constantly thinking about the human condition and the ways we are all connected. For the IB Extended Essay that culminates the IB Diploma experience, I wrote about HIV/AIDS policies in three African countries and how they violate the rights of women and children. I cultivated enough interest in this type of thinking at Cooper that I knew going into Concordia that Sociology was something I wanted to explore. I liked it so much it became a major.
Q: How about your other major, theatre?
RB: Theatre was also a passion that grew for me at Cooper. I acted in all 12 shows that were performed over my four years at Cooper. I grew as an actor and as a person there, and it really prepared me to enter my college theatre program.
Q: Were there other district teachers who had a particularly strong influence on you?
RB: Teresa Benjamin, my music teacher at Lakeview Elementary, introduced me to one of my largest passions––theatre. In fourth grade she informed my parents about an audition for a community theatre show. I auditioned, was cast, and that show became my first experience with a real theatre production. Rob Thompson, the director at Cooper, taught me so much and pushed me as an actress in all the right ways. Then there's Diane Pulling, my IB English teacher Junior year. She also served as my mentor for the IB Extended Essay. Pulling is a wonderful mentor in my life. The passion she brings to teaching and the genuine love she shows her students is amazing.
Q: You have an incredible summer ahead. Tell us about Rwanda first.
RB: I'm going with one professor and five other Concordia students in May to spend five weeks in Rwanda teaching English to genocide orphans. We will travel around the country, visiting different genocide memorials and learning about how a country manages to re-build and move on after such a monumental tragedy. I'm prepared to come back changed forever.
Q: And then you continue on to Oslo as a Nobel Peace Prize Student Scholar. How did this come about?
RB: The Lutheran Colleges Consortium in Minnesota hosts a Nobel Peace Prize Forum each year. Two students from each school are chosen to become Nobel Peace Prize Scholars. The ten of them have a summer study experience studying peace, and then continue their studies upon their return, and become "ambassadors of peace" at their campuses and in the community. This year, the NPP Scholars are going to the University of Oslo's International Summer School.
Q: Do you have a defined research project in mind?
RB: I hope to somehow incorporate my time in Rwanda into my research. I think it would be a great way to expand upon and reflect on my experiences in Rwanda.
Q: What are your long-term plans?
RB: I'm not sure. I'm passionate about so much. Theatre is a huge part of my identity, and I want to keep it in my life. What form that will take I don't know. Peace, human rights, inequality, and sociological research are potential areas of focus. I love learning, and am sure I will find myself in grad-school before long. Maybe I want to be a lawyer. One thing I do know about myself is that I'm not the kind of person that will find one career path and stick to it. I'm adventurous. We'll see where life takes me. I'm ready.
Q: Any advice for students now in the district?
RB: Robbinsdale Area Schools is a great place to explore who you are as a person and as a student. Working hard and taking advantage of the opportunities available really can take you places.