Senior Speaks: Behind the Scenes

Ever wondered how SCIA works? Our third installment of Senior Speaks comes from Karin, Ranjani, and Quinn–the board members of Student Committee for IMSA Advancement. 


SCIA. These four little letters have pretty much ran our lives these past two years. We’ve spent countless hours as the Student Committee of IMSA Advancement going to meetings in the President’s and Advancement offices, touring legislators and donors, and sitting somewhere to “look cute and be a model student”. Even though we still stress out about papers and spend all our breaks in the library possibly not doing work, we know that there’s something much bigger happening underneath all of us, shaking the ground on which we learn and live. Yet this sentiment is not held by every member of our student body. While budget crunching, increased restrictions, and the desire to make IMSA the unique learning laboratory it once was may satisfy school administration and those who fund us, some of us remain wondering why we came here in the first place.

However, we have a unique perspective and see IMSA as a state agency, which helps us understand things a little differently. This school is more than a place where we attend class and sleep on weeknights- it’s an institution that truly does aim to “ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition”. Despite the changes we’ve had to make in our lives throughout this past year with schedule adjustments, res hall closings, and classes, the people who we rant about in Facebook posts are the same individuals who thoroughly care about our education and want to make IMSA shine again. But we know that IMSA thrives not just because of its inquiry based learning, but because in the core, it’s filled with competent students who have a drive to learn. But in our pessimism and burned out attitudes, we often forget that we’re not the ones who keep IMSA going and continue to complain relentlessly.

The biggest and most humbling thing SCIA surprised us with is the sheer amount of people who work to ensure that we students can come back to IMSA every year. It’s not just our administration that cares. There’s Professional Field Services, Strategy and Innovation, Marcomm, and Development and Advancement departments- and that’s just on campus. We also have countless legislators, donors, and alumni across the world who champion IMSA because they care and truly believe that what we do here is important.

And while IMSA definitely has its shortcomings, it really does care. Our education, res life, and opportunities aren’t perfect- but that’s not what we were promised. We were promised a “learning laboratory” that does things differently than everywhere else and is always striving to be better. They never promised us anything that we didn’t get, and what we did get is pretty amazing. The friendships and memories that we’ve all made here are priceless, and should be something that generations of students to come should have a chance experience.

We’ve spent the better part of our IMSA careers working for its future because while it’s not flawless- it’s home. It’s a home that has tried to do its best to give us what we came here for: the world’s leading teaching and learning laboratory for imagination and inquiry. Lots of tours, thank you cards, and visits may seem pointless, but in the end, we know that it makes a difference. As students, we can sometimes lose sight of what’s important here. When the State Secretary of Education, former head of Chicago charter schools, raves about how she wishes her schools could have half the opportunities that we do, or when visiting legislators take out carefully folded appropriations letters from their jackets and briefcases and talk about how much they love reading about what happens here, our faith that there is something special about IMSA is reaffirmed. So if we can leave you with anything, it’s faith- faith that IMSA is still a place that cares about you. There are so many people who work day in and day out to keep this place open, and we are honored to have been some of them.

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