The student news site of St. Louis School, Milan

Spirit of St. Louis

The student news site of St. Louis School, Milan

Spirit of St. Louis

The student news site of St. Louis School, Milan

Spirit of St. Louis

5 minutes with … a former St Louis student

St.Louis is a bustling hub, with students, as well as teachers, coming and going whether it’s to wrap up exams or venture off to new horizons. We believe it is

immensely valuable to stay connected with past students, not only to understand their current careers and studies but also to offer guidance to current students as they navigate their challenging academic journeys.

One such standout student is Olivia Sophie Rafferty who completed her education at St.Louis after a remarkable 16 years. After graduating, Olivia pursued her passion for Journalism in London and is now a Journalist based in Hong Kong. 

What do you miss the most about St.Louis? 

“I miss my friends of course, and many of the teachers I had. Weirdly enough I miss wearing a uniform – having to decide what to wear every day is hard and not something I really thought about/appreciated when I was at school. I also miss things like the school musical, the choir, PE classes and of course all of the events that we had (like the Christmas markets, International Day, the book fairs etc…) – they were such a good way for me to pursue other interests and feel like I was part of a community during some of the hardest points of education (IB, IGCSEs and other exams) and I miss a time when I was handed opportunities to explore creativity/hobbies – as opposed to now where I have to go out and find clubs/events myself if I want to pursue hobbies.”

If you could repeat your experience of being a student at St. Louis would you do anything differently?

“One thing I would have done differently is to be less afraid/shy to ask questions in class. I was always afraid that my question would sound stupid but one thing I quickly learned in my degree/job is that no question is a stupid question – and you learn so much more quickly when you are curious about your material/subject. Also, you never know where your question might lead to a discussion.“

Which university did you attend? Why did you choose this university?

“I attended City University of London. I chose it because it is the best journalism university in London and I 1) wanted to pursue a career in journalism and 2) wanted to live in London. London has a vast amount of job opportunities, especially in journalism, and I feel like my ethics/morals align more with the way media outlets are managed (to be clear, not tabloids) in the UK, versus how they are managed in other countries (like Italy).”

What tips do you have for going through the university application process?

“My three tips for going through the university application process are:
1) Rankings are not everything – take the tables published online with a pinch of salt, and make sure you look at the student satisfaction number – it really makes a difference. During the pandemic, a lot of universities were very bad at managing how to shift online/look after their students and we really missed out on a lot because of that. I wouldn’t have changed my university decision because of it but it really impacted my general happiness, as well as the quality of the course that I was studying.
2) Make sure you visit the universities you are applying to (if you can!!) the vibe/energy of the university campus and the way in which you are received at an open day/visit is very reflective of the way your life at that university will play out in practice. I chose one university over another because of this key factor – but I would not have if I had not visited each of them.
3) During university application interviews, one thing I strongly recommend is to be yourself as much as possible. Sometimes it can be the make or break of getting into a school – and, especially for degrees like journalism, universities are always looking for people who think differently and who can bring something different to the industry they work in.”

What are you doing now?

“I am currently a senior reporter for an intellectual property publication, based in Hong Kong (IAM – I am responsible for reporting on developments in the patents and trade secrets space in markets across the Asia-Pacific region – this will include key transactions/licensing deals, policy and judiciary updates, data analysis of innovation trends, and patent and trade secret litigation. I also attend conferences in Korea, Japan, China, India and Australia to give opening/closing remarks, as well as network with and report on what the globe’s top IP rights holders think about developments in the region (and worldwide).”

How did your time in St. Louis help you in later life?

“My time at St Louis helped me in a number of ways. Through subjects like theatre/drama and the school theatre shows I was involved in, I was able to become more confident on stage and I have been able to leverage that when I give the opening remarks at events in my job, as well as when I have to approach someone in person/call someone for an interview. The IB was also a major asset (although it didn’t feel like it at the time!) – as a journalist, I am given very tight daily deadlines and I also have to write about niche topics that I only understand on a high level. But having to write so many essays, with short deadlines, on top of larger projects and university applications has made me into someone very capable of multitasking, writing highly technical news in a digestible way for our readers, and never missing a deadline. Finally, the international community at St Louis has given me the tools to be able to make friends wherever I live – and to connect on a personal level with my sources for articles. When you are able to connect with people even when they come from very different cultural backgrounds, you are able to earn their trust more quickly – and this is crucial in the field of journalism I work in (as well as in life in general, I believe).”

Channel Olivia’s perseverance and resilience into your own journey, whether you’re tackling the IGCSEs or the IB. Embrace her tips to navigate through your own challenges in your time at St.Louis, but not only. 


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