Pandemic inspires Scarlett
The threat of catching COVID had a huge impact on Scarlett Cox during her Year 12 studies but in a strange twist, the virus also helped provide the incentive for her university studies.
Towards the end of Year 11, the St Mary’s College student was diagnosed with a chronic disease and being immune-compromised brought with it a raft of issues during her final year of study.
“Managing my symptoms and undergoing treatment while completing Year 12 was a major challenge for me,” she said.
“I was on a few different medications that made me quite sick. I had a stomach ulcer related to one of the medications so was in hospital for that and then got really sick on another medication. It was trial and error throughout Year 12, which wasn’t the best time to have that happen.”
In a bid to avoid catching COVID – which thankfully she hasn’t – Scarlett wore a mask all the time at school and avoided large crowds.
“I didn’t stay home for extended periods because I really wanted to be in class, especially as I was doing STEM subjects and there was a lot of hands-on work,” she explained.
“The school was very flexible. If I needed to be absent for an appointment they would make sure resources were available to me in another way. They understood when I wasn’t feeling too good and gave me space to sit down and be away from everything for a moment.”
Scarlett studied Mathematical Methods, Specialist Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Integrated Learning (Religion) in Year 12, completing her Research Project in Year 11. When SACE results were released in December she received an ATAR of 99.7 and four merits and was named Dux.
“I was over the moon when I found out I was Dux,” she said. “It was just sort of something to show for everything I had gone through in the year. I was really proud.”
Despite the issues COVID presented her there was also an upside as living through the pandemic gave Scarlett clarity for her future university studies.
This month she will move to Canberra to study a Bachelor of Philosophy-Science at the Australian National University. It is a research-focused degree and she plans to specialise in infectious diseases and biostatistics.
“COVID had a very large effect on me so I became really interested in preventative medicine, vaccination and epidemiology so that is the path I decided to go down,” she said.
He may dream of having his head in the clouds one day, but for the time being Lucas Rutter’s feet are firmly planted on the ground as he takes a year off study to work and save money.
The Dux of St Francis de Sales College in Mount Barker said his long-term goal was to become an airline pilot and with his preferred course costing about $130,000, he has opted to remain working at Coles Bridgewater in 2023 so he can help fund his studies.
“This career path is challenging and requires substantial time, dedication and money for building flying hours to be employable. Given the long road ahead for this pursuit I am taking a year off from studies to work, supporting me with experience and money for my endeavour in 2024 of undergoing flight training.”
Lucas said he was drawn to becoming a pilot for several reasons.
“I think it’s a big responsibility to be in charge of such a big piece of machinery,” he said.
“It’s a job that directly impacts a lot of people…and it’s also a really great way of being able to apply maths and science skills in a more practical way.
“I’ve done a couple of introductory flights which I’ve really enjoyed and even as a passenger on a plane, I’m really fascinated by flying.
“I think it’s a really cool career and besides the planes, you can explore the world at the same time.”
During his year off, Lucas will also continue to pursue his other love of music.
A talented saxophonist, he plays with the Mount Barker Concert Band at various shows and community events.
An exhausting lacrosse training schedule didn’t stop Holly Dini from achieving an ATAR of 99.85 and four merits in the process.
The 2022 Dux of St Michael’s College admitted it was “very hard” juggling sporting and study commitments, but said she was now looking forward to devoting this year to “training and travel” while preparing to hopefully study medicine in 2024.
An avid lacrosse player for the past seven years, the dynamic 18 year old was part of the U23 national team which toured the USA in mid-2022. She said missing two weeks of school meant she had to be “super-organised” with her studies and she was grateful her teachers allowed her some flexibility meeting deadlines.
“I think the hardest thing was the Research Project, which I handed up about five minutes before I had to be at the airport,” she laughed.
Her other Year 12 subjects were Specialist Mathematics, Mathematical Methods, Physics and Chemistry.
In the lead up to her participation in the touring lacrosse team Holly’s training schedule was intense. On Monday and Wednesday she would attend trainings with Woodville Lacrosse Club, national training was on Tuesday, State trainings were held on Sunday and she played games on Friday nights and Saturdays.
“I really only had Thursday off, but I also had to fit in three gym sessions and get all the running done for the week at some point,” she said.
“It was a hard decision to go to the USA as there was a lot of training involved and I was very close to saying no, but I am so glad I did go as it was a great experience.”Jump to next article