By Cyrielle Bazin, Head of Admissions


Universities around the world have had to adjust their teaching to now be carried out online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment, almost every college in the world has switched to a distance learning model. For a lot of students, particularly freshmen, it might feel like they are being robbed of the “traditional” university experience.

Most ISR Alumni are currently college students. For them, becoming an adult in such times has demanded deep introspection. They have had to draw from the reservoirs they each accumulated over their time at ISR. They are our tenacious, principled, and accomplished ambassadors. These are their stories.


Kirill Naumov, Class of 2020, is the first ISR student accepted into an Ivy League university. He’s remained in Latvia and on a computer screen for most of the school year. The exception has been a well overdue trip with family to the Maldives where he completed his finals. According to Kirill, “Never in my life has slacking been so lucrative!” He worries about how much more strenuous in-person study will be when students return to campus.  He’s focused his academics on “expanding [his] knowledge in programming, finance, and blockchain development.”  Kirill believes surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family is one way that ISR alumni can overcome the feelings of social isolation. He plans to travel to Philadelphia in a few days and hopes for a better second semester.

Accutely aware (and perhaps even slightly envious) of Mr. Naumov’s chance to write final examinations in paradise is our next featured alum, Sara Al Zaabi, Class of 2020. She comments, “all learning was online but my midterm and final exams had to be on-campus!” For Sara, she initially struggled with getting to know her professors and onboaring into university life. It won’t be a surprise to her former teachers that Sara’s applied herself well and earned a 3.93 GPA. Looking forward, she’s excited to finally meet the other students at her academy and commented, “I never thought I’d miss [ISR] this much.” We miss you too, Sara, but we’re also very proud of you.

For Alberts Celmiņš, Class of 2020, the “first semester in college was awesome.” After a very difficult two months (where many students failed their subjects), Alberts excelled in his economics and business related courses. His university emphasized a “blended” learning model, meaning that once or twice a week he had on-campus lessons. Lectures were on campus around three times a week, but students had to sign up for them as there was a limit of people that could attend. According to Alberts, ISR students hoping to study abroad in Netherlands should be aware that “the Dutch don’t [mess] around, and they try to get rid of all the lazy [students].” It’s warming to hear that Albert’s has maintained both his wit and work ethic at university. Bravo!

ISR Class of 2020: Kirill Naumov, second from the right, top row; Alberts Celmiņš, first from the right, top row;

Sara Al Zaabi, first from the left, first row. 

Anna Holberga, Class of 2018, is one of the ISR Alumni that remained in Latvia for university. Anna was elected to lead her student government, which aims to keep students informed about the changing rules and regulations. She’s played a positive and ethical role in her community. Like ISR students, she started the semester in-person and then transitioned into an oline program. The most stressful part for Anna was completing her “in-person teaching hours in the primary school” while simultaneously making time for her online classes.


Anna Holberga, Class of 2018 

I hope these stories are heartwarming and help remind teachers and parents how truly sacred their relationships with these children-turned-adults are. These alumni honor all the work that our community does to shape the leaders of tomorrow. Their success is our success. As we start a new year, dear readers please take a moment to think about where you all want to be in the not-so-distant future. Let’s make it happen.