WISS Today Article

Alumni Spotlight – Cecilia Serrano 

This month’s alumni feature is Cecilia Serrano, a recent WISS graduate, who chose to continue her post-WISS education in Switzerland. 

The fascinating thing about this profession (teaching) is that we are not only teaching but also learning. We not only share knowledge with students, but we are able to meet unique young people like Cecilia and learn from their challenges and individual perspectives.

Cecilia studied German Language and Literature at WISS without having a German family background; that indeed made Cecilia such an outstanding student. She brought many exciting questions and cultural insights into the classroom, which significantly impacted the group. I saw Cecilia’s story as one of great motivation and risk-taking. Her resilience and perseverance inspired the class and affected us all.

Moreover, she consistently acted with maturity and poise throughout her time at WISS. Working with Cecilia was a joy, and seeing her outside of the context of my class was always a pleasure; her polite manner and positive attitude were a perfect fit for a school like WISS.  

Today Cecilia studies “Sustainable Business” at SUMAS, the Sustainable Management School of Gland in Switzerland. I am sure Cecilia’s generous, gentle, and collaborative personality and manner will lead to success wherever she decides to go.”  shared Helen Osterloh Yetis, German Language and Literature Teacher at WISS.

Cecilia at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS)

Name: Cecilia Serrano 

Years at WISS: 2015-2020 

Graduated: Class of 2020  

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil 

Currently: Geneva, Switzerland 

What impact did your time at WISS have on you?  

My time at WISS made me very open-minded and well-rounded. It made me more conscious of my surroundings, and the people around me, and how I impact them. I always want people around me to feel comfortable. Especially as an international student, I am conscious of new students and make sure they feel welcome. My school now is very international so I think my time in IB at WISS has caused me to have so many interesting conversations in my new community and to learn how to converse even when we disagree.

Cecilia and her friends in the library

What were the highlights of your time at WISS?  

I really like the fact that I met so many open-minded people during my time at WISS. I really respect and admire how caring and accepting the WISS community is. At the end of the day, everyone in our grade was nice and polite to each other. I’ve heard stories of bullying at other schools and am glad we didn’t have that issue. I also really enjoyed all of my teachers and the relationships we built. They were always genuinely trying to help the students and were there for us!

Cecilia at the Western International School of Shanghai (WISS)

What are you doing now, and what are your career goals?  

I am studying at SUMAS in Switzerland. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Sustainability has always interested me, but I didn’t realize I could pursue it as a degree. SUMAS visited us at WISS and I realized that business is something I am good at, and sustainability is my interest. So I wanted to combine the two for my future. I am currently obtaining my Bachelor’s in Business Sustainability. I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I know sustainability will lead me to be part of a change and to have a positive impact on the world.

Cecilia at the Graduation Ceremony

What advice would you give to current WISS students as they’re looking ahead to college and careers?  

I would tell them not to stress about which career they want to have. I encourage you to do something you enjoy. It will make your university experience easier if you are focused on your interests. Try and manage your time, it’s a skill you should have by the time you enter university. Keep in mind that these times are stressful, and I’ve been through it. You may have some downs along the road, but you will always have options down the road. Having a bad grade isn’t the end of the world. 

Cecilia presenting her Personal Project at WISS

Can you tell us more about SUMAS, as WISS has a partnership with them?

Going to Switzerland from Shanghai was a big change because it’s just so different in every way. But I am adjusted now. You really learn to appreciate the community here, and I am enjoying nature around me here in Switzerland so much. 

The campus here is small, and because of that we’ve all formed a very strong connection and community. The community is a bit like WISS in that regard. All of the professors here are so respectful, and I can get help whenever I need it. Even though SUMAS is a smaller school, it’s really nice to have a 1-on-1 connection with the professors!

If sustainability, or business, is something you’re interested in then I encourage you to take a look at the SUMAS-WISS program because it’s a job for the future. This program really helps differentiate you and set you apart.