Head’s Message: An Interview with Georgia Walker-Keleher

What has the application process for this program been like? How long did it take you to apply?

I began applying for this program in October of 2018. People from across the US submitted a written application at the end of October. People that did well on that continued on to the Skype interview. Finally, about 100 students were selected to continue to the final step of the process, the on-site interview in Montezuma, NM. The onsite interview was definitely the most stressful part. I was not a big fan of a bunch of adults scribbling on clipboards every time I spoke! At the end of the application process, the US National Committee selected 50 students to be “Davis Scholars.” Out of the 50, 25 are going to the United World College in the US (in Montezuma, NM). The other 25 have been nominated for positions at the other 16 campuses around the world. In mid-February of this year, after a very long 4 months, I found out I had been nominated to go to United World College Waterford in Swaziland (located in Southern Africa)!

How did you find out about this opportunity? Why did you choose Waterford Kamhlaba UWC of Southern Africa?

My mom was the person who first brought this opportunity to my attention. I went to a summer camp called the Global Leadership Forum which was put on by the United World College in the US. After going to the camp, I knew I wanted to apply to the schools. Students got to rank the schools by preference but the National Committee placed people at the school that they thought would benefit you the most. I guess they thought a 6′ 1″, blond haired, blue eyed girl would fit well in Africa! Jokes aside, I ranked Waterford high on my list for several reasons. One, it is the only UWC in Africa. Two, it has sports teams that travel to Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique so I will be able to continue to play soccer and basketball. Finally, I have always been in the majority in all of my communities. I will go from being surrounded by white Americans every day to being the only white American at my school. I expect it will transform the way I look at the world.

What do you look forward to both in regard to education and recreation in this new place?

Academically, I am really looking forward to the full IB diploma program. Since the IB diploma is the only diploma they offer, they have many more options and much more flexibility than Hellgate in terms of courses. For example, I will be able to take IB theater! In addition, the students that are going to this school will be motivated, passionate, and eager-to-learn (in general). I love to be surrounded by people like that, and I think it will add to my academic experience.

Recreationally, I am excited to discover all Swaziland has to offer. UWC Waterford places a lot of emphasis on local service in the nearby communities. I am interested in medicine and one service option that sounds super interesting involves working in local clinics with doctors. Also, as I mentioned before, I am looking forward to playing sports with and against people from all over the world.

Have you received any scholarships? 

I did. As a “Davis Scholar” I received a $25,000/year scholarship which will cover all expenses besides plane tickets. I will be working this summer to pay for mine! Part of my love for the UWC movement comes from the super generous scholarship packages they offer to all students. It makes UWC unique within boarding schools and adds socioeconomic diversity to the student body. In addition, after graduating from UWC Waterford, through the Davis United World College Scholars program, all my need for any US college I get into will be paid for. I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity and I credit MIS, my Missoula community and my family for giving me the courage to embark on this adventure!

Window into the Classroom: First Lego League


Our Lego League team is off to California for Lego Land. The invite came after the team received an award for second place at the Montana state competition this last winter. Now 9 months into their robot, programs and code the team is looking forward to being in Lego Land to show off their skills. We sat down with Aidan Chapman and Quynh McKelvey Pham to talk about their excitement about being on this trip, as well as their personal goals for going to Lego Land.

Aidan Chapman:

Hey Aidan, first I want to ask, how long have you been on the FLL team? 

5 years now!

Is this your first time in the National conference? 

No, this is my second time. The other time was with our last team in 2017.

Okay, what is one of your favorite things about being on this team?

I really enjoying the programming side of this project as well the robot building. Working with the team is fun, and the traveling is a great perk.

What is a personal goal you hope to achieve while at Lego Land?

One goal I have is to make more friends than I did last time I was there.

Quynh McKelvey Pham

Hey Quynh, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, how long have you been on our FLL team?

Sure, I’ve been on the team for 3 years now.

Is this your first time in the National conference? 

No, I was able to go to the National Conference with this team in 2017 as well.

What is one of your favorite things about being on this team?

I really appreciate that I can be myself on this team. Also, the core values by FLL are really insightful and I think they are a valuable guide for kids at this age.

What is a personal goal you hope to achieve while at Lego Land?

Personally, I would like to meet more people at Lego Land, more teams and coaches. The whole event goes by quickly, so it can be hard to do this.

Admin Feature: Business Office

What brought you to MIS?

Gini: My kids brought me to MIS!  I was a parent here for 15 years while Lia, Will, and Nina attended preschool through 8th grade.  They are amazing people and I attribute a very large share of that to the years they spent in the MIS community.

Becca: I did a project in my last semester at UM for the class scheduling at MIS. While doing that project, I fell in love with the school, the mission and the values. As soon as I saw the Business Manager job opening, I applied and have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the family here.

There seems to be a lot of great changes happening in the business office.  What are some that you are especially proud of?  What can we look forward to next year?

We have been streamlining systems to try to make billing and payments easier and more straightforward for parents.  We want their positive experiences on the classroom side of the school to extend to their interactions with the business office!  We are working to implement a parent portal that would be a one-stop shop for parent communications and transactions with the school.  We are modernizing our technology, marketing and communication.

How does the business office support the mission of MIS? 

The budget is the school’s mission in action!  The business office supports the mission of MIS by ensuring we have the resources needed to pay our wonderful teachers and fund incredible educational experiences for our students.  We also work to ensure that the school is financially sustainable and will be here for many future generations of MIS families.

What do you look forward to doing over the summer?

Gini: I’m looking forward to doing more trail running and backpacking with my family.  I’m going to the Bay Area with my mom in July and I’m looking forward to spending time with her (she’s a very fun lady) and enjoying the big city vibe.

Becca: This summer will be full of river floats, camping, fly fishing (I never catch anything but love the rhythm of it), riding our horses, playing with our other animals (pug, german shorthair, rescued cat) and time with family. I’m sure a glass or two of wine will sneak its way in, as well.

How do you split up your responsibilities?  How do parents contact you?

Gini takes care of higher level finance responsibilities whereas Becca digs into the details, but we are both wearers of multiple hats! Parents can best contact Gini ([email protected]) or Becca ([email protected]) by email.