Omar Bassem Rahal ’20 (Lebanon) will do his undergraduate studies at Medical University of Warsaw and intends to pursue a career in surgery and research after completing his specialty in the United States. The 2020 H. Miller Crist recipient also considered offers from University College London (UCL), University of Central Lancashire, University of Buckingham, and University of Exeter.
Omar finished three stellar years at TASIS on a high note. In addition to being honored with the H. Miller Crist Award—the highest recognition accorded annually by the TASIS Faculty to the senior who best embodies or pursues the ideals, aspirations, and goals of the School—he also received the The Shah Akbar Khan Award for Excellence in Mathematics Award and the Excellence in Science Award at the 2020 Commencement Ceremony. Shortly before that he was inducted to the TASIS Cum Laude Society chapter, and shortly afterward he learned that he’d scored an impressive 40 points on his Bilingual IB Diploma assessment.
Fluent in Arabic, English, and French and regarded by both his teachers and peers as a quiet leader and an extremely motivated student, Omar set a strong example as a Head Proctor in the dormitories and helped countless classmates through the science tutoring sessions he initiated. Described in his H. Miller Crist Award citation as “a gentleman in all senses of the word” and someone who “contradicts the perception that a leader needs to be overly confident and selfish,” it comes as no surprise that Omar also won a Magnificent Seven award for Humility and a Torch Award for embodying cross-cultural understanding and making a significant effort to reach out to students from other countries and cultures.
Omar answered the following questions about his time at TASIS The American School in Switzerland shortly after his graduation in May 2020.
Do you feel that your time at TASIS has prepared you well for college?
Yes, taking the IB diploma will prepare me for university—especially the science investigations we did at school. These made me think like a scientist, and all of the research skills I developed will allow me to undergo my own research at university.
Did the College Counseling Office influence your path and/or help you achieve your goals?
Yes, I worked with all three college counselors and especially with Mr. Stickley. We had many meetings to sort out and prepare my applications to the UK. I am grateful for having him as my college counselor.
What experiences have you found most inspiring at TASIS?
I was most inspired by the time I spent working in the science lab, my service learning trip to Gram Vikas (India), and my Academic Travel trip to Zurich.
What courses or teachers will you remember most fondly?
That is an extremely difficult question. For me, each IB class I took was unique and enjoyable in its own way: Ms. Crockett with her morning cookies and tea and lovely explanation and support, Mr. Ogilvie with his lovely jokes, Mr. Panontin and Mr. Shields with their clear explanations and the projects on each topic we examined, Mr. White with our real-world discussions—which led me to take Economics as my fourth IB HL—and finally Ms. Du Rée with her organization, support, and optimism.
And I loved all my classes, which was why I took four IB higher-level (HL) courses. I will tell all students to pick a course they like because it is much easier to prepare for. It is difficult to choose a favorite course as I loved all my IB HL courses, but Math HL is a truly special course.
What do you think you will miss the most about your time at TASIS?
I will miss all of the close support my teachers gave me throughout this journey and will miss all of my friends and proctees. We were, and will still be, like a family.
Clearly this wasn't the way you and your classmates wanted to end your time at TASIS, but is there anything positive you can take away from this very difficult spring?
Distance learning at the end of the year will help me adapt to the virtual education that I might have for the first semester of my university.