“I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program”
From our larger cities to small regional towns in outback Australia, Rotarians have been super busy over the past few months promoting the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and conducting student selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.
We spoke to NYSF Rotary District Chair (DC), Stephen Lovison from Sydney (D9675), about his involvement with Rotary and the NYSF Student Selection process.
Stephen first joined Rotary in 1999 as a Rotaractor and has been president of his Rotary Club, Como-Jannali, twice and served on numerous district boards.
“(I joined Rotary) primarily to give back to my local community and to assist overseas causes championed by Rotary International. I like the fact that club members are local community leaders, but the beneficiaries of our volunteer work could be anywhere on the planet,” Stephen said.
“When the opportunity for NYSF District Chair became available I decided to try something different. I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until I got working on it – it’s been challenging and rewarding all the same.”
Rotary Liaison Officer on the NYSF Board, Rob Woolley, estimated that last year Rotarians volunteered more than 20,000 hours to the NYSF in promoting the program and conducting student selections. Rotary has over 30,000 members, 1,100 clubs in 21 Districts throughout Australia, giving students from all corners of the country the opportunity to attend the NYSF.
“Rotary provides a massive logistic service when it comes to student identification, interview and selection. We rely on our network of business and community leaders to ensure the most suitable candidates are put forward (to district selection),” Stephen said.
This year the NYSF Year 12 Program will be expanding, allowing 600 students to attend in either Canberra or Brisbane. Stephen added that the program provided a great opportunity for students who were interested in the STEM fields of study.
“Experience and exposure to the top minds and resources in STEM at the level NYSF provides is unrivalled. If you can get access to this as a young person and springboard your career in STEM because of this opportunity, go for it.”
This year the NYSF is offering 40 Equity Scholarships of $1000 each to students who may need assistance to attend the Year 12 Program. Stephen believes this will encourage a more diverse range of students to apply.
“There are a number of schools and districts where, for various reasons, a program such as this may be deemed “out of reach”. In keeping with Rotary and NYSF’s commitment to making the program viable to all students, the Equity Scholarship should hopefully open more doors for these students.”
And Stephen’s advice to students thinking of applying to the NYSF …
“Jump on the NYSF website and do some research, then make contact with your local Rotary Club. We are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.”
“In our district, we look for any student with a keen interest in the STEM fields, who is community and culturally open minded, and is willing to share and collaborate with their peers and mentors.”
Stephen said feedback from students who have participated in the NYSF Year 12 Program is a testament to its success and value.
“We have not had anything but praise for the NYSF team and the program itself from every returning student! The phrases “changed my life” “wonderful and challenging two weeks” “would recommend to anyone” feature heavily in the post-program reports sent to DCs.”
“In broad terms, alumni have gone on to various university courses and careers in science, healthcare, astronomy, and engineering. Several have joined Rotaract and/or Rotary and we’re glad to see that investment coming full circle.”
For more information about the NYSF Year 12 Program go to https://www.nysf.edu.au