Help us celebrate our 35th year in 2018

The celebrations for the National Youth Science Forum’s (NYSF) 35th year in 2018 are well underway with many events planned to mark the occasion!

The festivities started at our Canberra Year 12 Program launch at The Australian National University (ANU) in November with a cake cutting and a heartfelt speech by an alumnus who attended our very first session in 1984, Professor Tim Senden, now the Director of the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University (ANU).

This was quickly followed by our launch of Session B at The University of Queensland (UQ), attended by many alumni currently studying at UQ, where Provost Professor Aidan Byrne explained why he thought the NYSF would be a valuable addition to the UQ outreach programs. In 2018, two Year 12 Programs will be delivered in Canberra at the Australian National University (ANU) and a new third session in Brisbane at the University of Queensland (UQ).  Nearly 600 students will participate across the three sessions in 2018!

Our Science Teachers Program will also continue in 2018, with a session in Canberra at ANU and, for the first time, a second session also in Brisbane at UQ, catering for 80 teachers.  All of these NYSF programs are made possible through the hard work and dedication of many including our funding partners, 68 volunteer student staff, Rotary volunteers, guest speakers, lab visit providers, board members and corporate team – there are so many people involved to make the January Sessions come to fruition!

NYSF CEO Dr Damien Pearce said the 35th Anniversary looking forward to the NYSF’s 35th year celebrations.

“The 35th Anniversary celebrations allow us look at our past and reflect on the events and people who have helped shape the NYSF – from its days as the National Science Summer School (NSSS) – into the organisation it is today. It also allows us to look to our future, as we continue to evolve to meet the demands of the Australian community.”

“We encourage our alumni to participate in our events and activities and share their stories with the NYSF and other alumni. With over 11,000 alumni there are a lot of stories to tell,” Dr Pearce said.

The NYSF Year 12 Science Dinners are always a favourite event, and in 2018 we have three very distinguished and inspirational keynote speakers who have accepted the invitation to address the students.  The Session A Science Dinner keynote speaker is Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE, former Western Australia Chief Scientist, an eminent scientific innovator, communicator, educator, and neuroscientist. In Session B, 2017 Australian of the Year, Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim, a biomedical scientist specialising in adult stem cell research, will be speaking; and at the Session C Dinner we will hear from internationally acclaimed medical researcher and philanthropist Professor John Shine AO FAA. Professor Shine is the current CSL Chairman and was recently appointed as incoming President of the Australian Academy of Science.

And the line-up of amazing speakers will continue at our Rotary Alumni Evenings with Professor Liesl Folks, (Session A), Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo in New York state, and an internationally recognised expert in nanotechnology and magnetism. Liesl attended the very first NYSF/NSSS session in 1984. Volcanologist, Dr Rebecca Carey, NYSF 1997 Alumna (Session B) a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania, and meteorologist, Nate Byrne, NYSF 2001 Alumnus (Session C), the weather presenter on ABC TV News Breakfast.

We encourage all our alumni to ‘Save The Date’ and join us to hear from these talented scientists.

STEM Speed-dating is happening again in all three sessions in January – two in Canberra and one in Brisbane.

Students have the opportunity to “work the room” and talk to a range of people who have studied a STEM field or work in STEM-related careers.

We would love to have you and some of your colleagues along to this event to talk to students about career paths in your area. To find out more or to register, please follow the link HERE

In addition we will be featuring the stories of some of our alumni with our 35 alumni over 35 years in 35 weeks social media campaign.  Follow the NYSF Facebook Page to read about their stories, and if you are an alumni with a story to share, please contact leonie@nysf.edu.au. Our alumni are our best ambassadors!

We’ve also kept the designers at Shirty Science busy creating a special edition 35th Anniversary T-shirt.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page to find out when they’ll be available for sale.

We hope you can help us celebrate this milestone in 2018. For further information about up-coming events follow us on social media.

Facebook – /NYSFoz

Twitter – /NYSFoz

Instagram – /nysfoz

LinkedIn – National Youth Science Forum

or email Leonie at leonie@nysf.edu.au.

A full house of Governors’ Receptions

Each year, September to November marks the season for Governors’ Receptions in the NYSF calendar. This year with almost 600 participants selected to attend the NYSF Year 12 Program next January, a significant proportion had the opportunity to attend a reception in their local state, to honour and celebrate their achievements of being selected to attend the NYSF, as well as acknowledging the extensive efforts of Rotary in selecting them.

In Victoria, Her Excellency, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, and her team at Government House generously  extended invitations to all 150 plus Victorian-based students, along with two guests each. A number of Rotarians and NYSF Partners were also invited. To accommodate the total of more than 400 guests, the event was hosted in the ballroom – a truly spectacular space.

Emily Mannix, who will be attending Session C in Canberra, travelled from Bendigo to Melbourne to attend the event. Here is what she had to say:

The Victorian Governor’s Reception for NYSF 2018 students was an exciting event for all involved – this was the first opportunity to meet some of the lucky few attendees like ourselves. The Victorian Governor the Honourable Linda Dessau AC and her husband Anthony Howard met with students at the reception and after a few words of congratulation had the room buzzing with enthusiasm for what was to come.”

Next, on the other side of the country, it was time for the West Australian Governor’s Reception which was held by Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC. This was a more intimate event for the students, giving more opportunity to get to know each other and have time to talk with the Her Excellency.

Alex Troung from Perth said, “The Western Australian Governor’s Reception was a magnificent event – we all were looking forward to attending and were not disappointed! It was amazing to hear from our Governor, Her Excellency, Kerry Sanderson, who both congratulated us and inspired us with her own journey in the field of science. The event was both warm and grand, and I loved meeting my fellow participants there!”

A week later we saw two events on the same day. In South Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC and his wife, Mrs Le, hosted a delightful morning tea event where students and a parent/guardian had the opportunity to explore all corners of Government House. Around the same time in another part of the country, it was Tasmania’s turn with Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC hosting students, parents and Rotary members from the Rotary District 9830.

With no number too small, the next event to be held was in Darwin with the Administrator of the Northern Territory the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM. Both of our Northern Territory based students were able to attend this very intimate event.

Later that week, it was off to Brisbane, Queensland for an afternoon tea hosted by His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC. Excitement was high for this event with the new session planned for Brisbane in January 2018 and a number of representatives from our partner the University of Queensland also in attendance.

Sadly, the final Governor’s Reception to be held at Government House in Sydney on the 9 November by His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC had to be cancelled at the last minute due to severe illness. Disappointing but very understandable.

The NYSF would like to thank sincerely each of the Governors for hosting our incoming students, along with their fabulous staff whose support is essential for the success of these events.

 

Taking the “Next Step” in Sydney for STEM study information

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) continued its Next Step program in Sydney this July over a two-day period.  The Next Step Program is an extension of our January Year 12 Program – allowing the current year’s participants with the opportunity to further their knowledge about career and study options available to them.

Day one saw visits to our partner organisations ResMed and Cochlear in the morning and the Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum in the afternoon.

At ResMed students toured the facilities of one of the biggest chronic sleep disorder device corporations in the world. They explored the ResMed manufacturing warehouses, had discussions with leading research and development engineers, and tried their hand at assembling various sleep apnoea devices.

During the Cochlear visit participants went behind the scenes for a glimpse into the hearing implant market and saw why Cochlear is a world-wide market leader.

In an interactive exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, participants were transported back to Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London to try and crack the case by conducting their own experiments.

Isabel Beaumont, one of this year’s cohort said NYSF’s Next Step program was a valuable addition to the January Year 12 Program.

“The Next Step programs are always useful as they further broaden your understanding of all the possible careers in science.  The are also a great way to reconnect with friends from the NYSF,” she said.

“I really enjoyed the visit to the Cochlear headquarters. We were able to tour their implant manufacturing facilities and see some very impressive machinery.”

During the evening the NYSF held an Alumni Event that you can read about here.

At the Sydney Observatory, in the heart of the CBD, students looked through a telescope over a century old, as well as more modern equipment. They viewed sunspots on our Sun, and the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. They also discussed career options with Danica, the tour guide, who is completing a PhD in Astronomy.

The following day students visited the University of New South Wales (UNSW).  There were multiple visits available such as the opportunity to build and engineer solar cars, explore the Museum of Human Diseases and listen to lectures about psychology, optometry, medicine and various other degrees. NYSF alumni who are at UNSW studying degrees across science, medicine and engineering, visited the group, and  heard about the amazing scholarship opportunities UNSW offers.

NYSF 2017 alumnus, Ben Kirsh said he got a better insight into university life after visiting UNSW.

“It was really good to see the uni (UNSW) and the student tour guides were great because they showed you the side that isn’t portrayed in the open day brochures. They gave insider knowledge of senior students which I thought was pretty cool … and confirmed to me that attending UNSW next year is very possible. All in all we came away with a lot of great information and advice we can use to make informed decisions about study and career options into the future.”

Ben also felt that Next Step gave him additional information about future career and study options.

“Next Step was very useful as it allowed the opportunity to see other (NYSF partner) universities such as UNSW and talk to students currently studying a range of degrees in differing fields to question them to see which may fit myself the best. It also allowed me to catch up with people I met at NYSF, as well as meeting people from other sessions,” he said.

We would like to thank our partners for their continued support and in particular those organisations that participated in the Sydney Next Step Program, IP Australia, UNSW, ResMed, Cochlear and UTS.

Sharing Knowledge and Experience – Sydney Next Step Alumni Event

In partnership with IP Australia the NYSF hosted the second Alumni Event in July. The event was held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where our newest cohort of NYSF participants had the opportunity to listen to older NYSF alumni about their education and career journeys.  The Alumni Event was part of the Sydney Next Step Program which you can read about here.

Professor Louise McWhinnie, Dean of the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation welcomed everyone to UTS, and then several NYSF Alumni spoke about their study and work since leaving high school.

Stephanie Pearce (NYSF 2010)  now works as a patent examiner at IP Australia. Stephanie shared insights about life after NYSF, particularly her career at IP Australia, and the importance of protecting  intellectual property.

Associate Professor Alison Beavis, (NYSF 1997) who is Deputy Dean for the UTS Department of Transdisciplinary Innovation said she felt a part of the NYSF family and offered some sage advice to this year’s cohort.

“This year will be a hard, crazy year but remember in the end it will be incredibly exhilarating. It’s a long journey but you are not alone, you are always being supported.”

Our keynote speaker, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton,  attended the very first NYSF (previously known as National Science Summer School – NSSS) in 1984. She spoke about her professional and personal journey in medicine, and an experience with a dying patient’s attitude to medical care that changed the course of her career.  Associate Professor Clayton is the Director of HammondCare’s Centre for Learning and Research in Palliative Care. Her research aims to explore the best ways to facilitate open discussions around palliative care that aligns with the patient’s wishes as opposed to looking at the issue from a purely medical point of view.

“In an ageing population we can’t cope with palliative care. There are not enough beds.  We need to get GPs involved.”

“I am blessed to have a job that has dedicated time to researching and teaching.  I love collaborative research that focuses on translating research into clinical practice,” Associate Professor Clayton said.

The other presentations highlighted the diversity of our alumni’s experiences, touching on everything from overcoming obstacles and changing paths, through to advice on what employers are currently looking for and following your passion.  All in all NYSF alumni had a great evening, gaining great advice about study options and career, networking and meeting other alumni and catching up with old friends.

NYSF thanks our alumni speakers including Rhys Killian (NYSF 2013), Emily Smith (NYSF 2010), and Jacob Silove (NYSF 2014)  and our fabulous MC Jason Borg (NYSF 2010).  A special thank you also to Professor Louise McWhinnie, Associate Professor Alison Beavis, the staff at UTS who made the evening such a great success and IP Australia for its continued support.

NYSF Alumnus Sandro Young – from top graduate to a career at Google

“I graduated from the University of Toronto with the highest grades in my class, and with a full-time offer from Google. I’ll be moving to Mountain View, California in September. I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life, and I’m thankful for the role that NYSF played in setting me out on this path.”

At the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) we are more than happy to blow the trumpet for our fantastic alumni and their achievements and NYSF 2011 Alumnus, Sandro Young is no exception!  Sandro recently graduated from the University of Toronto (U of T) as its top student and has already lined up a new career with Google in California.

Sandro talks to us about his time at NYSF and the journey that has lead him to a career with Google.

“Hi! My name is Sandro Young, and I’m an alumnus from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2011. I’m from Canada, and attended the NYSF as part of a science-themed cultural exchange. In 2010, I participated in the Canada-Wide Science Fair – a competition in which finalists from across Canada in Grades 7-12 are invited to showcase their science fair projects. As part of NYSF’s International Program, a delegation of NYSF alumni visited Canada to attend the fair. The NYSF delegation then selected a handful of Canadian students to attend the following year’s NYSF, and I was lucky enough to be among them.

NYSF was a formative experience for me. I was interested in STEM throughout high school, but NYSF really solidified that interest for me. We visited some amazing labs, including a particle accelerator, an astronomical observatory, and a massive supercomputer. We heard talks from incredible scientists and engineers, including a scientist working on the LHC at CERN. We held mock debates about the future of energy and the ethical implications of genetic engineering. We went to barbeques, picnics, trivia nights, and a science-themed disco. I made some incredible friendships over the course of the forum. It was also the first time I got to visit Australia, and I loved discovering this beautiful country.

After finishing high school, spurred on by the experiences at NYSF, I decided to pursue a degree in computer engineering at the University of Toronto. University offered plenty of exciting opportunities. I worked on a robotics team, designing a rover which autonomously navigated obstacle courses. I co-led the Spark Design Club, fusing engineering with art to create large interactive displays. I interned at Altera (now owned by Intel), a company which builds reconfigurable integrated circuits. I developed an interest in artificial intelligence, and took courses in machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. Finally, I got an internship at Google, where I had the opportunity to work on real-world machine learning problems.

I graduated from the University of Toronto with the highest grades in my class, and with a full-time offer from Google. I’ll be moving to Mountain View, California in September. I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life, and I’m thankful for the role that NYSF played in setting me out on this path.”

You can read more about Sandro’s achievements at the U of T HERE.

NYSF 1987 Alumnus, Dr Jason Smith, talks about his varied career path

I attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF), formerly known as the National Science Summer School (NSSS), in 1987, some 30 years ago – that does make me sound old! It was the first time I realised there were lots of other kids like me who really enjoyed science, and it was fantastic to make friends across the country with others who shared a similar outlook. I was in the Human Biology group at NYSF/NSSS, which gave me a great insight into the world of health care and science within it.

Following Year 12 I studied Medicine at University of Queensland (UQ) and after working as a hospital doctor for a couple of years I started work as a GP. I then studied Civil Engineering as it was another area of interest for me, and I worked in that area for a short while before coming back to Medicine. After more time working as a GP, I undertook specialist training to become an anatomical pathologist, which is my job now and I love it.

In high school my favourite subject was biology and at the NYSF/NSSS I was amazed to see the possibilities that science was bringing to this field. The emerging knowledge of genetics that I first became interested in at NYSF/NSSS is now part of my regular work in regards to the different genetic mutations in tumours that we test for. A better understanding of these mutations allows for more accurate diagnoses and treatment with newer targeted therapies. This area of medical science is still changing at a rapid pace!

The NYSF/NSSS had a profound effect on me. It gave me the motivation to keep studying hard at school to get into university and opened my eyes to the wide range of jobs and careers that are based on the different sciences. It also gave me self-confidence – even if my school mates thought I was a bit of a nerd, I now knew there were others just like me all around the country who I’d met and made friends with.

I still keep in touch with fellow students from NYSF/NSSS 1987, both as friends and work colleagues. And although I’ve lost contact with some of the other students I met there, I’m sure many of them have also found their way to a happy and successful life somewhere in the sciences.

NYSF Alumna Nana Liu, Scientist by day, Opera Singer by night

STEM, Science, Alumna, Alumni, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum

Invited to Israel by Prof. Jacob Bekenstein (one of my heroes as a teenager, known for the Bekenstein-Hawking radiation in black holes) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Here is me enjoying the Old City in Jerusalem

“I’ve always liked what Winston Churchill said, that no failure is fatal and no success is final.”

Twelve years has passed since I was fortunate enough to attend the National Youth Science Forum, and what a ride it has been so far! Looking back, I feel so lucky to have interacted with so many amazing people and to have been inspired by each one of them to better reach my own goals. Interacting with my new friends at NYSF has certainly helped me to learn from interesting and diverse groups of people. I’m looking forward to the next twelve years! Bring it on!

Around the time of attending the NYSF, I became a member of a research group at the University of Melbourne studying the behaviour of granular materials. This dynamic area of research exposed me to the importance of the cross-pollination of ideas coming from different fields, which is still influencing the way I’m viewing research now. During the time I was in this group, I majored in pure mathematics at the University of Melbourne before completing a master’s degree focusing on theoretical physics. My thirst for more physics and the `outside world’ led me to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Oxford, where I was fortunate enough to be offered a full scholarship as a Clarendon scholar. This was a very exciting and also a very difficult time, where I was given a great deal of freedom to pursue my own research interests. I began work on finding out how quantum mechanics (the physics governing atomic scale phenomena) can enhance the processing of information. This required a lot of cross-disciplinary research, which my experience in earlier years in granular materials had prepared me for. This led me to study how quantum mechanics can improve the power of computation and also precision measurement, like imaging. After completing my PhD, I began work as a full-time researcher at two research institutions in Singapore, continuing research on how quantum mechanics can make computers so much more powerful than any computer existing today.

I feel blessed everyday that I am living my dream of being a scientist, something I’ve wanted since I was eight or nine. There is no feeling quite like finally being able to feed yourself (to buy as much ice-cream as you want!), house yourself and to buy gifts for your family and friends from what you earn doing what you always dreamed of doing.

One of the best things about scientific research is working with fantastic fellow scientists who also become your friends. Bouncing back sometimes crazy ideas and trying them out with colleagues often feels just like building a treehouse, digging into a new ant’s nest or acting in imaginary worlds with your friends in the playground.

My colleagues live all over the world and I travel all around the world to work with them and share my research with them at international conferences. I have visited colleagues throughout England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Israel, China, Singapore, United States and of course Australia. From each scientist I meet, I always learn an important lesson. Sometimes it is about how to better clarify ideas, how to be more rigorous in demonstrating an idea or learning different habits to enhance creative moments. Other times, it is being inspired by their enthusiasm, their optimism, their love of learning and most of all their kindness. I have also had the privilege to meet and work with many world-class researchers, some of whom I’ve wanted to meet since I was at NYSF. So sometimes dreams do come true!

STEM, Science, Alumni, Alumna, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum, Oxford University

Left: This is the first ever banquet dinner for the first Women in Physics Society in Oxford, which I helped to organise. We are standing outside the hall of Merton college, one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. Right: Invited to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai. I was born in Shanghai before moving to Australia when I was six, so physics has taken me back to my earliest roots.

Social activities outside my own research have also kept me quite busy and I have found these vital to keep life balanced and in perspective. Oxford has been the perfect place for me to learn from people dedicating themselves to different areas. Every other evening, I would be dining and engaged in discussions with a biologist, a chemist, an archaeologist, a linguist, an anthropologist, a mathematician, an historian, a free-lance adventurer, an economist, a roboticist, a musician, a writer, an engineer, a philosopher, a neuroscientist, an environmental scientist, or the occasional politician and ambassador. It is always super interesting and helpful to learn about the struggles of different people trying to overcome different obstacles in different fields of endeavour. These conversations are always an endless source of inspiration.

I also became the first social events coordinator for the first Women in Physics Society in Oxford and this provided an excellent opportunity to learn from amazing women physicists. I was also very lucky to belong to one of the oldest colleges in Oxford (Merton) and sang in the college choir for many years and performed regularly. One of the highlights is performing in the 750th anniversary celebration of the college and singing with world-class performers. Since coming to Singapore, I have been fortunate enough to join the chorus of the Singapore Lyric Opera Company and am due to perform in my first major opera production. Working with a fantastic team towards a thrilling goal is incredibly inspiring, whether it is in science or not!

In the twelve years since I attended NYSF, I have discovered that science is not a solitary island or an ivory castle in the clouds (you guys are smart and probably already know this, but I’m a bit slow). It is a vibrant marketplace, populated and run by people, with all the pluses and minuses that come with people. The direction of a field can be more often led by beliefs than by solid demonstrations. Therefore, to navigate better in science, I have found that it is important to better understand other people and how to interact with different kinds of people. Doing science is not a pure intellectual activity. It can be more often than not a heavily emotional activity. So it is important to take good care of yourself, to be kind to yourself and to keep the company of good friends. Resilience and enthusiasm counts for more than being clever. Success only happens perhaps 1% or less of the time (maybe you’ll be luckier than me), so it is important to keep yourself happy and motivated the rest of the time. I’ve always liked what Winston Churchill said, that no failure is fatal and no success is final. There’s no final destination and no real dead-ends, so it must be the ride that counts. You NYSFers are all amazing, resilient and unique, so just go for it and keep positive during the exciting ride that awaits you!

Newcastle Tea Ceremony

Students from the Newcastle area who recently returned from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 Year 12 Program in January, were treated to an afternoon tea hosted by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes.

The Lord Mayor congratulated local students on their achievements and selection to the NYSF program.


“It was my pleasure to host this special afternoon tea recognising the National Youth Science Forum and the number of local alumni who demonstrated the up and coming science, engineering and technology talent in Newcastle’s high schools.”

Also in attendance were Rotarians from local clubs, representatives from The University of Newcastle, local school principals and NYSF alumni, including NYSF 2013 alumnus, Phill Johnson, who was recently awarded Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year, and Newcastle City Councillor, Declan Clausen, who attended the NYSF in 2010. Cr Clausen knows first-hand the benefits students can gain from the NYSF program.

“As an alumnus of the NYSF, I know the value it plays in opening doors for young people across Australia in engineering, science and innovation.”

Callaghan College (Jesmond Campus) Student, Meheret Dagemawe, said the afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor was a memorable experience.

“Having the opportunity of meeting the Lord Mayor has allowed me to have an in-depth conversation of my future aspirations, in which Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, took great interest and provided invaluable insight about my choices.”

“The NYSF, although science related, has given me life skills that I could apply regardless of what path I choose to follow. The connections created through laughter and healthy debates with the brilliant minds of like-minded students is what I cherish most. I was also able to take away the most valuable lesson of networking with awe-inspiring scientists and speakers. Going to NYSF has allowed me to widen my career and further study options, it’s enabled me to be able to see different perspectives from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Cr Clausen noted that an additional 200 places will be available for next year’s program and encouraged local students to apply.

“As a region we have been very fortunate to have been so well represented at NYSF in the past, and I strongly encourage young Novocastrians in Year 11 to apply to attend NYSF in 2018,” Cr Clausen said.

Applications for 2018 open on 1 March. Full details at: www.nysf.edu.au

Awards & Recognition: NYSF Alumni in the News

Here at the NYSF we love to see all of our NYSF Alumni following their passion in their studies, careers and communities. It’s also fantastic when they are formally recognised for their hard work and over the past months a number of NYSF Alumni have been recognised with formal awards and scholarships.

Simon McKenzie (NYSF Alumnus 2010), who is currently completing his PhD with the ANU in the field of computational chemistry, has received a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship aimed at supporting exceptional students pursuing post-graduate study. The scholarship includes a nine-month leadership development program as well as an international experience for up to six months.

Jasmine Elliot — NYSF 2017 Alumna

Several former NYSF participants have received Young Citizen of the Year awards in their respective regions. Jasmine Elliot, who completed the program this January, has been named Young Citizen of the Year by the Gladstone Regional Council at the Australia Day awards ceremony on the 25th of January. Jasmine is involved in several groups including the Gladstone Region Youth Council and the Headspace Youth Reference Group. She is also nominated for another award in the Access Community Services and Multicultural Youth Queensland Cultural Diversity Awards which will be announced on May 5th.

Within his own region, Phillip Johnson (NYSF Alumnus 2013) was named Young Citizen of the Year by the Newcastle City Council. This is thanks to his advocacy for students on a range of different issues. Phil currently attends the University of Newcastle, studying Civil Engineering, where he has taken on the role of Student Association President.

Katie Rae (NYSF Alumna 2014), who is an active member of the Toowoomba Guiding Community, has also been honoured with the Young Citizen of the Year award within her own region. And in the region of Cowra, it was Maddison Johnson (NYSF Alumna 2016) who took out the same award owing to her representation of Cowra at several local, state and international events. Maddison has been an active Youth Council member for the past 3 years, was lucky enough to be chosen as one of just six Australians to attend the United Nations Global Youth Leadership Forum held in the United States and was the Lions Youth of the Year and Youth Peace Ambassador in 2016.

Olivia Flower — NYSF 2016 Alumna

Ben Kenworthy (NYSF Alumnus 2016) is one of 14 year 12 students featured in an ABC TV documentary, My Year 12 Life. The program follows the 14 students through their year 12 at high school via a video diary. Insightful and informative, you can catch it through the various ABC TV platforms.

Olivia Flower (NYSF Alumna 2016 and student staff leader 2017) was awarded the Ken Ward Memorial Scholarship in herhome community of Freshwater in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The scholarship goes towards her university costs and recognises Olivia’s academic achievement, leadership, community service, charitable and voluntary work, and sporting prowess.

We would like to congratulate all of these alumni for their outstanding achievements.

Faces of the NYSF 2017: Session A

In this photo above, we have the first of our volunteers supporting the NYSF 2017 Session A students and student staff: from left to right Damien Butler, Kirsten Hogg, Nigel Liggins, and Angela Forthun.

First, let’s meet Damien and Kirsten, both former participants of the NYSF (or the NSSS, back in their day).

Damien is somewhat of an NYSF veteran, first attending the program as a student in 1990, and also attending the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS). He returned as a student staff member in both 1991 and 1992 before being involved in several NYSF seminars as a guest speaker. He started university with a double degree of law and chemistry, but felt attracted to law and now works as a solicitor.

Kirsten attended the NYSF in 1991, and after graduating and completing her postdoctoral studies in physics she took on the world of research as an academic. Now Kirsten works as a secondary school teacher and has been awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by Queensland College of Teachers (QCT).

meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener

On the first day of the NYSF 2017 Session A program, I asked them what they thought of returning to the NYSF, as well as how they feel about the NYSF experience as a whole. Their responses were enlightening:

“We were both country kids, and meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener.”

“There is enormous diversity in the people, and without even mentioning the science the atmosphere of the NYSF was incredible.”

I can definitely relate to everything Damien was saying. Pre-NYSF you rarely have any idea of the types of amazing people and opportunities out there for you. The NYSF is incredible in that you often go to the program alone and as a result have no choice but to grow, and fast.

Since becoming a secondary teacher Kirsten has worked hard to promote the NYSF:

“Often students go to the NYSF alone and sometimes they can come home on a low because nobody in their school understands or thinks of the NYSF as anything special. But it is an incredible experience, and having been there I encourage as many students to go as I can.”

Nigel Liggins and Angela Forthun are attending the NYSF 2017 as Rotary aunts and uncles. They come from different parts of Victoria, and have been involved with the program through Rotary for some time.

Angela Forthun teaches Japanese at primary and secondary schools in Melbourne. She has been involved with the NYSF for the past 12 years, starting out by interviewing NYSF applicants for her local Rotary club and now attending the NYSF 2017 as a Rotary aunt. Angela hopes to learn more about the opportunities the NYSF presents for high school students, with the goal of sharing this knowledge with her local Rotary club in Melbourne.

Nigel is a high school science teacher at Notre Dame College in Shepparton, Victoria. His involvement with the NYSF stretches back to 1988 when he sponsored a student to attend the National Science Summer School. Almost thirty years later, Nigel’s interest in the NYSF has only grown stronger as he returns for his second session as a Rotary uncle.

Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program

“Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program, as it informs students about tertiary options and career paths that they may not yet have considered,” he said.

Damien, Kirsten, Nigel and Angela are providing valuable assistance to the NYSF, underlining the important role that Rotarians and our alumni can play in continuing the work of the organisation that runs the NYSF programs.

They can also dab.

 

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

and Dan Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus