Annalisa Turner has been coming to BrainBoost for tutoring since she was in Grade 7. She recently celebrated her graduation from the IB program at St. John’s and acceptance to the CAP: Law and Society Arts program in UBC.

Now that you are graduating from high school and BrainBoost, can you recall any favourite memories?

I’m very mischievous and annoying. So obnoxious. I have a white board obsession. I remember leaving love notes all over the whiteboards at BB. But I shouldn’t just give one memory to BB. I’ve been here for 8 years. I’ve had so many different tutors. I know almost all the students here. My one memory from BB is honestly just having people so open and accepting of who you are – no matter what your background is or who you are. It’s a living memory because it’s still happening right now. I can’t say one memory because everything that’s happened to me here has affected me in a positive way.

How would you say BrainBoost supported you through your studies?

At BrainBoost you have such a close relationship with your tutors and the staff, so people actually know you and care about you. I’m very musical. I love singing, dancing and I’m very theatrical. When I came here the tutors would say ‘Well, you know how have to push yourself to be a better dancer by working through a hard step?’ They made connections to my personal life. They made each task super relevant to me.

I can be all over the place with my thinking. Like, I know some students who can focus for 6 hours straight on. I can’t. I always do 45 minutes with a 15 minute break. All my tutors set up a daily plan and checklist for me.

What have been some of your academic challenges?

English was the most challenging for me. I just had my last session with Jana a couple of weeks ago and she gave me something I wrote in grade 10 when I first met her. But she said, ‘it’s somebody else’s work.’ And I started reading it and I was thinking, ‘Whoa? this is something that I would’ve written, like, 5 years ago?’ and I was so embarrassed. [laughs] But it was also amazing to look back and see how much I’ve enhanced my abilities.

What is high school really about?

High school is learning how to balance your life. Knowing who is going to be by your side always. High school is getting a bad grade on a test you studied really hard for and learning to accept that. It’s probably the worst place to build your confidence–I’m not going to lie. There are people who are going to tear you down and there are people who are going to bring you back up. You’re not going to have everyone on your side. It’s a precursor to the rest of your life but intensified.

What advice would you give to high school students and students coming to BrainBoost?

Your case managers are your best friends and you should really respect what they do. You want to be on the same page as your parents and you don’t want them to be mad at you. You need them to understand what you are doing. I think my case manager Matt has really strengthened my relationship with my parents as friends and mentors.

Create a great group of people that you can study with and feel comfortable around. I find when you study and are learning a new concept having the ability to have a judge free zone, bounce ideas of each other is so?important

Be freaking organized. I mean I was very unorganized. Make dividers for yourself like in homework and out homework to stay on top of work. I know people don’t use their agendas. I get it I didn’t use mine but make checklists, scheduled. Time management is half the battle.One trick I have is I always write my test date in [my agenda] two days ahead so that even when I procrastinate I have two extra days to study. I’ve freaked out my friends with that before! [laughs]

Sleep. I know people say pull all-nighters and it’s a cool thing to do. It’s not. You get tired and cranky. You’re not going to be prepared for the test the next day. Give yourself breaks and set up a cut off time.

Do things that you love to do no matter what your friends and parents think. If you enjoy something you will excel in it. You’re going to increase your confidence in other subjects too.

So how important is confidence?

Confidence is a huge issue. When I’m on stage, I just feel like I know what I’m doing but in terms of school, especiallyMath and English I had no confidence at all. My cousins (who were also enrolled in IB at St Johns) really excelled in academics and there was a lot of family pressure.

Can you speak more about the pressure to achieve?

I come from a very intensely educated family. The pressure of that is intense. My parents have passed along the great work ethic that comes along with that. They have pushed me too hard sometimes and Matt’s mediation was so important. Sometimes Matt would say, ‘Annalisa you have to listen,’ or he would ask my parents to back off and give me a little space, so it was always a push and pull. I know a lot of parents who think my kid has to get an A? but some kids are not good at everything, their brains don’t work that way.

Being at BB I remember having multiple discussions with Matt that I wouldn’t be good at everything so I had to be confident with the things that I felt ok in and improve myself, knowing that sometimes, even when you try your best you won’t get an A+.

Are students who get straight A’s better prepared for university?

I would like to say that people who get straight A’s in high school are not prepared for university. They haven’t had time to have a social life. You have to fail in order to succeed. High school is getting a bad grade on a test you studied really hard for and learning to accept that.

You mentioned that high school is learning how to find a balance. What is next year going to be like?

Busy! I want to get a job next year. I’ll be in the CAP program at UBC. But there are small class sizes and standardized timetables which I’ve learned really works for me. I’ll also be playing in UBC rec and joining clubs.

Finally, what would you say is your definition of success?

Personal success is when you are happy and knowing that you are doing the best that you can do. I don’t think success is how school grades it as a 99%. It’s not something you can count.