A Conversation with Minerva Student Dilnaz

by Dilnaz | Oct 15, 2020

Quick Facts

Dilnaz Baltabayeva

Nur-Sultan (Astana), Kazakhstan


Computational Science— Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery


Why did you choose to attend Minerva?

Minerva’s international student body stood out to me as I wanted to continue to surround myself with people with different perspectives, beliefs, and life experiences. I attended an international high school, where I had to learn how to communicate, both verbally and nonverbally, with my classmates who came from different cultures and spoke many different languages. This experience was out of my usual comfort zone but sharpened my emotional intelligence and open-mindedness. Over time, I gained intellectual humility and became more open to change and less afraid of making mistakes. With its diverse community, I saw Minerva as a reasonable extension of my international high school experience. I chose Minerva for its journey of lifelong learning and professional development. Now, here I am building my lifestyle, understanding my values, and digging deeper into my passion. I cannot imagine doing it at any other university where the environment around me would not help me reach my full potential.

What do you like about Minerva academics? How is Minerva’s pedagogy different from a traditional classroom?

At Minerva, every student must come to class prepared, which makes everyone feel responsible for contributing to the lesson and creating a motivating learning environment. Professors also track how much each student speaks and provide feedback on what we say. I like how I know our opinions matter and that we are learning compared to traditional lectures.

Even though I have only been at Minerva for a few weeks, I can already feel how deliberate and intentional I have become when it comes to learning. The lessons are well-planned and engaging so that there is no way one cannot meet the lesson’s learning objectives. Also, the last-minute cramming and re-reading will not work here as it did at my previous traditional schools, but this challenge brings me constant joy and enthusiasm before and after classes on Forum.

Tell us about one challenge you’re passionate about solving in the city you live in, or will live in, while at Minerva?

During my International Baccalaureate program in high school, I wrote an essay on air pollution on how to evaluate the extent to which a coal power plant in the city and meteorological parameters influenced the high levels of particulate matter (PM 2.5) during winter. From my research, I found that temperature and pollution levels in the city were strongly correlated. At Minerva, I want to continue investigating air pollution levels in the cities, such as Hyderabad, as it is a significant global problem, especially in developing countries.

What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Minerva community?

Minerva students are easily approachable, curious, and open-minded. I love that I continuously learn from my peers whether we’re buying groceries, exploring the city, or preparing for class. I get to continually engage in deep conversations and controversial opinions. Everyone is passionate about something, and there is no way you leave the discussion without any new thoughts.

What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?

In the application, make sure to measure your accomplishments and provide enough details. Many Minerva students did impactful activities during their high school and gap year experiences, and, to make your accomplishments even more impactful, I urge you to be more accountable and precise in your process. State the initial state of your project, define the goal state, brainstorm the key obstacles, and the scale of the problem you want to solve.

Also, make sure to learn wisely. School can become overwhelming but it is also important to prioritize what is important to you. By using effective learning techniques and principles you can make time for your social life, extracurricular activities, and personal relationships.

How is Minerva shaping the future, in your own words?

I believe that Minerva, unlike other universities, encourages students to explore themselves, the place they are in, and the people around them. Minerva is shaping the future by continuously encouraging students to get out of their comfort zone, search for a way to make this world a better place, and become a global citizen. I feel grateful to be able to get an affordable education at a highly selective university with an international student body who I can travel around the world with and make a change wherever I am.

How did you get involved with EducationUSA?

I went to many EducationUSA events in Kazakhstan, where I met friends and future team members. I became more involved and was responsible for running the EducationUSA university fairs and ensuring that the sessions were informative and helpful for potential students. I also helped organize free tutoring and standardized prep sessions for students. This work made me happy as I was able to encourage and support students from Kazakhstan in their quest for high-quality education in the US.

What did you learn from your EducationUSA experience?

EducationUSA taught me leadership skills and how to use my resources wisely. Through practice, it became a community where I learned how to reach new people in the city, and beyond, to discuss ways to solve the big problems I was thinking about. Now, I am encouraged to continue seeking new opportunities and place myself outside of my comfort zone in order to be a proactive leader for someone else.

Why did you decide to pursue an IB Diploma? What appealed to you about the program?

I chose the International Baccalaureate program as it provided a rigorous, well-developed curriculum and future opportunities. I appreciated how students could choose six subjects from six areas, which let us find meaning and a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them. The program also requires a lot of reflection since one had to understand the importance and intentions of the work.

How does IB’s Theory of Knowledge relate to Minerva’s curriculum?

In IB’s Theory of Knowledge, students try to find an answer to the question, how do we know what we know? We explore ways of knowing, such as language, senses, emotion, and reason, and areas of knowledge, like math, art, and history, and the relationship between the two. Saying ‘I know math’ and ‘I know history’ are not the same because knowledge is built using different principles and techniques. Minerva uses this information and creates its curriculum around the science of learning and the Habits of Mind and Foundational Concepts (HCs). This is powerful, as once one understands the basics of how knowledge is gained, it is possible to create learning principles and use them in the classroom to better understand any subject.

If you were inspired by Dilnaz’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.