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Advice from alumni: Sabina Chokusheva

Sabina Chokusheva, from Kazakhstan, graduated from EF Academy Torbay as class of 2014. She is currently studying Business and specializing in Finance and Accounting at New York University (NYU). Learn more about our featured alum:

How did you hear about EF Academy and why did you choose to go to EF Academy?

I had no plan on studying abroad until I got to know about the Founder’s Scholarship through an educational fair in Kazakhstan. When I won the scholarship, I thought, “Why not?” I wanted to meet new people and get to know a new country. I chose the Torbay campus because it is a small community and I heard from a friend who was studying there that the teachers were really good.

What university did you go to afterwards? What did you study?

I am currently studying business, specializing in Finance and Accounting, at New York University (NYU). I also applied to UK universities and was accepted to Manchester, Loughborough and Lancaster. However, I always wanted to go to the U.S. and thus applied to New York University (NYU). I already knew then that I wanted to work in finance and more specifically in investment banking because there are so many opportunities in that industry. As long as you work hard, you can make it there. Since New York is the financial center of the U.S., it was clear to me that studying at NYU was my first choice. As they say, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!

The application required for an American university was very different, but I got a lot of support from our guidance counselors, specifically Wyn Morgan and Mandy Meek, in Torbay. I will never forget the night that I received my acceptance to NYU.  It was midnight and I was so happy that I was literally jumping up and down with joy.

Tips for current students that want to study what you study?

Start you research early: Look into which universities you like and potentially even which companies you would like to work for in the future.

Pay attention to your studies: Take the opportunity to study different things that interest you. Be open to new things and make sure to broaden your horizons.

Get to know people: No matter where you end up, it is important to get to know people. Connections and, most importantly, friends are very good to have.

Do you keep in touch with your EF Academy classmates?

Definitely – I still keep contact with quite a few. Due to the time differences, we mainly talk over social media but I spoke even more with them during the summer.

What’s your favorite memory from EF Academy?

The school trips were a lot of fun because we got to know the UK and have a good time with our friends. I remember one trip that we took to Alton Towers and we stayed at a hotel all together – it was great fun.  Also, graduation was a special day because I guess that was when I realized that it was almost over.

What do you miss the most?

I mainly miss the group of people at Torbay; it was so easy to connect with everyone.

What is one thing that you learned from EF Academy that you found valuable for university? For work life? For your personal life?

For me, the most valuable thing I learned was to be open-minded. For many of us students, EF Academy was the first time we left our home and got to know other cultures. We really learned to understand other people and accept our differences. Sometimes we would agree with each other and sometimes we wouldn’t but in the end, we all learned to respect each other’s differences.

What tips would you give to current students?

Just learn: Not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of broadening your knowledge and horizons. For me, I learned how to network with people. This has proven to be invaluable at university.

Relax but manage your time: I know that it sometimes can get very stressful but do remember that there will be much more to come in life. However, time management is important to learn in order to get all of your assignments done on time – but never forget to eat and sleep.

Get to know yourself:  Knowing yourself is the first step to building your own life and career, so take the chance and learn who you are by trying out new things. For example, I learned that I really like business and languages by trying out many different subjects. I made many friends and through that I came to understand which type of people I like.

Any last words?

For any student who is at EF Academy or who is planning to go there, I promise that you will have a great experience. Make sure to learn as much as you can and make friends for a lifetime.

Also, I do find that our EF Academy alumni network is very valuable, including the cross-campus one. For example, during the Hult Challenge almost three years ago in London, I met a Russian girl, whose name also happens to be Sabina (oh well), who studied at EF Academy New York at that time.  We kept in touch and guess what; we are both studying in New York City now and are still friends.

Lastly, I would like to express thanks to all the teachers for sharing this wonderful time with me.

Short questions:

Name: Sabina Chokusheva

Age: 20

Nationality: Kazakh

How many languages do you speak? Four: Kazakh, English, French and Russian

EF Academy campus: Torbay

Graduation year: 2014

Program: IB (Business and Management, English Language and Literature, Economics, Mathematics, Environmental Systems and Societies, and French)

Residence or host family: Host family (shout out to Ana and Steve!)

Favorite subject: Economics because I have always liked analysis and logic. I also knew that I wanted to study it going forward and it has proven to be very helpful during my university studies.

Favorite teacher: Andy Scott, I think. Overall, I had really nice teachers and still keep in touch with many of them.

Favorite club/society: For me, it was definitely fitness class that we had every week. It was a very good way to both bond with my peers and exercise. I also enjoyed the cooking club with an Italian chef. My specialty was Italian meatballs.

Which is the next country you want to visit?  I would like to go to France to practice my French and to any country honestly, just to visit my EF Academy friends.

Who to interview next:

Caroline Imelda

Shouts outs to:

  • Dilnoza Yusufova, Stephany Aymerich, Dan Nguyen, Rubik Grigoryan
  • All the Kazakhstani students
  • Debbie Chatterton – previous IB coordinator and now Headmaster of Torbay – congratulations, Torbay!
  • My IB group – the wonderful people who I spent two years with


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