From Lake Zug to London: Nina’s Journey of Discovery and Purpose with ISZL

Fiona Flintham

Currently residing in the city of London, ISZL Alumna Nina Van Volkinburg reflects on the profound impact ISZL had on her life, not only academically but also in building lasting friendships and shaping her worldview.

After graduating in 2012, Nina expressed gratitude for the opportunity to attend ISZL:

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to have attended ISZL and I regularly think about how the school has positively shaped almost every aspect of my life and for that, I would want to thank my parents for deciding to prioritise my education."

Her journey in London over the past decade has been intertwined with ISZL alumni, forming a tight-knit community that has withstood the test of time. From navigating the highs and lows of high school to university and now in their late twenties, these friends have been a constant source of support and camaraderie. Especially as expats - belonging equally everywhere and nowhere - she found it incredibly special to still have the same group of high school friends.

In a serendipitous twist, ISZL played a significant role in her personal life as well. She met her now-fiancé, Michael, through ISZL friends, a testament to the strong connections forged within the school's community.


Chasing Dreams: From Vogue to Academia

At her graduation from ISZL in 2012, she shared that her ambition was to become the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue magazine. While that dream may still be within reach, her journey took an unexpected turn as she delved deeper into research. The world of fashion journalism lost its allure as she explored further, leading her to a PhD in Marketing at the University of Exeter.

Her academic journey culminated in becoming the Course Leader of the MA Fashion Marketing program at the London College of Fashion. The trajectory, though not linear, is a testament to the value of exploration and pursuing your true calling. From film studies to marketing, her career path evolved, showing the importance of adaptability and the ability to recalibrate your path.


Lessons from ISZL: A Guiding Light

Nina reflects on the key lessons instilled at ISZL, emphasising the school's commitment to co-creation and positive collaboration. The International Baccalaureate (IB) programme and the overall ISZL experience provided a unique lens that has guided her interactions with the world, fostering empathy and a drive to create impactful solutions, such as addressing the climate crisis.

"Looking back I think the real value of the IB and the experience of ISZL kicks in once you are navigating your own path as those lessons become the lens with which we see and interact with the world.

Her story is peppered with gratitude for the educators who left a mark on her. From Ms. Price, who helped her find her voice, to Mr. Peel, who revealed the power of storytelling, and Ms. Gorman, who imparted teamwork skills both on and off the volleyball court. 

She also credits Mrs Keys:

"Mrs. Keys who on the day of graduation pulled me aside to say that I need to always do something creative - those words are a big part of why I make time to paint every day."

Lessons to Share: A Personal Manifesto

Some lessons Nina shares looking back:

  • Be awkward. Don’t follow the crowd, wear what you want to wear. Originality and being your authentic self are everything. 
  • Make the most of your teachers. They are the best and will guide you to become your best.
  • Invest in your friendships. It’s too easy to lose touch and that will be a regret. Spend as much time as you can with your friends at Lake Zug.
  • Enjoy every moment of ISZL. I don’t know anyone who does not miss their time growing up in Switzerland.
  • Lean in. Ask questions, share your perspective in class, raise your hand, and disagree. Find your voice!
  • As Mr McCowan suggested in Grade 11 - read The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham.
  • Do your homework. Not for the sake of the class but knowledge is everything - whether for landing you your dream job or being a master at the art of conversation.
  • Embrace Failure. It teaches us more lessons than we could ever plan.

In essence, Nina Van Volkinburg's journey from ISZL to London serves as an inspiration, highlighting the power of an education that extends beyond the academic realm. Her lessons at ISZL continue to shape her perspective, influencing her choices and impacting the world around her.

Watch Nina discussing the fashion industry and Coronavirus on BBC World News.

You can read more about our ISZL Alumni or join our Alumni communities on LinkedIn or Facebook.

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