Shaylah McClymont isn't one to shy away from extra curricular activities. During her time at Canberra High School she's worked as an ambassador on the Youth Advisory Council, as a member of the ACT Youth Coalition and as a supporter of Canteen. She's been on student representative committees, helped to organise formals and yearbooks and found time to perform in plays.
So it's refreshing to hear she has no idea what she wants to do when she leaves school and that one thing she's glad she's learned as she completes her four years of high school is to have fun.
"That's something we tend to forget," says the vibrant 16-year-old. "If you're not having fun what's the point?"
Ms McClymont is one of 2750 ACT public school students who will graduate from Year 10 in the next week, and was one of 73 recognised on Monday at the Year 10 Excellence Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the High School Years.
Ms McClymont received an award for being an active and informed citizen.
"I've learned a lot about myself during my time at high school, the way I learn, how I interact with other people," she says.
"The biggest challenge has been time management, I do a lot of extra curricular bits and pieces and having to juggle that and make sure I'm completing my assignments has been a little bit difficult."
Ms McClymont will attend Gungahlin College for Year 11 and 12.
Matthew Sutton, 16, of University of Canberra Senior Secondary College Lake Ginninderra, has worked hard on his time management skills. As the goalkeeper for the Australian Under 17 soccer team he has had to combine study and sport at the highest level.
Mr Sutton moved to Canberra from Sydney at the end of 2015 to take up a Football Federation Australia scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport to further his soccer career.
He said the communication between the sports program and school has enabled him to combine the two with relative ease.
"The way the AIS works in collaboration with school has made it much easier than I thought it would be," he says.
Mr Sutton received an award for being a successful learner. He will remain at Lake Ginninderra.
Hayley Steel, 16, of University of Canberra High School Kaleen, received her award for being a confident and creative individual. The talented young artist is a hard-working student who excels across a number of disciplines. As well as being in the school rock band program, she paints and draws in a number of mediums and won the portrait competition at the 2016 Canberra Show. She hopes to enter the Young Archibald competition next year.
"I have really loved that school has provided a lot of opportunities," she says.
"I've been able to set up my own art business as a school project and have been teaching art classes."
Ms Steel will attend Lake Ginninderra College.
ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry said the awards represented a year of effort, and also the culmination of many years of hard work, dedication, success and community service.
"Today's winners have been recognised by their school for their commitment to their school and to their local community," Ms Berry said.
"They are being recognised because they are exceptional young people.
"The recipients have demonstrated qualities of academic excellence, creativity, sporting prowess and a keen desire to contribute to the world, beginning in their own backyards."
The 2016 Year 10 Excellence Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the High School Years winners are:
Alfred Deakin High School
Katrina McHenry – a successful learner
Aruna Anderson – a confident and creative individual
Kai Scott – an active and informed citizen
Joanna Chung – a successful learner
Abraham Peters – a confident and creative individual
Piper Roberts – an active and informed citizen
Belconnen High School
Mikayla van der Sterren – a successful learner
Hannah Smyth – a confident and creative individual
Allison Breummer – an active and informed citizen
Black Mountain School
Charlotte Bailey – a successful learner
Will Smith – a confident and creative individual
Dylan Suitor – an active and informed citizen
Calwell High School
Grace Buckmaster – a successful learner
Kim Ha – a confident and creative individual
Amanda Joyner – an active and informed citizen
Campbell High School
Patrick Miller– a successful learner
Elisabeth Dykstra – a confident and creative individual
Nikolay Miroshnichenko – an active and informed citizen
Canberra High School
Hamzah Badri – a successful learner
Caitlin Johnstone – a confident and creative individual
Shaylah McClymont – an active and informed citizen
Caroline Chisholm School
Erin Carter – a successful learner
Felicity Maloney – a confident and creative individual
Kay Liddiard – an active and informed citizen
Benjamin McKeahnie – a successful learner
Balthazar Lai – a confident and creative individual
Terence Stamp – an active and informed citizen
Gold Creek School
Shams Mehry – a successful learner
Holly Thorpe – a confident and creative individual
Kimberly Abraham – an active and informed citizen
Aden Pulford – a successful learner
Adam Purvis – a confident and creative individual
Jessica Storrar – an active and informed citizen
Anna Balaguer – a successful learner
Ronan Gotch – a confident and creative individual
Aimee Green – an active and informed citizen
Kingsford Smith School
Deanne Milward – a successful learner
Riz Asuncion – a confident and creative individual
Chanvadee Ngep – an active and informed citizen
Lake Tuggeranong College
Hunter Dinning – a successful learner
Lanyon High School
Tamara Vucic – a successful learner
Ashlee James – a confident and creative individual
Tanya Chaophrasy – an active and informed citizen
Lyneham High School
Ryu Callaway – a successful learner
Peter Gedeon – a confident and creative individual
Laura Mobini-Kesheh – an active and informed citizen
Melba Copland Secondary School
Kassandra Stewart – a successful learner
Shanmalee Teys – a confident and creative individual
Shannia Afele – an active and informed citizen
Melrose High School
Erin Cowey – a successful learner
Marwa Fahiz – a confident and creative individual
Sibusiso Sithole – an active and informed citizen
Mount Stromlo High School
Keira Joyce – a successful learner
Neve Foxcroft – a confident and creative individual
Grace McMurtrie – an active and informed citizen
James Maala – a successful learner
Mayhaylea Peters – a confident and creative individual
Mansib Zaman – an active and informed citizen
Telopea Park School
Rosa Mason – a successful learner
Sam Parkinson – a confident and creative individual
Olivia Baldwin – an active and informed citizen
The Woden School
Kevin Tran - a successful learner
Francisco Rodriguez - a confident and creative individual
Jesse Bartlett - an active and informed citizen
University of Canberra High School Kaleen
Lauren Riddle– a successful learner
Hayley Steel – a confident and creative individual
Rebecca Haisman – an active and informed citizen
University of Canberra Senior Secondary College Lake Ginninderra
Matthew Sutton – a successful learner
Bryce Bafford – a confident and creative individual
John Roberts – an active and informed citizen
Gabrielle Clarke – a successful learner
Sara Leuii – a confident and creative individual
Kisa Iftakhar-Hussain – an active and informed citizen
The happy academic
Professor Kylie Ball
Alfred Deakin Professor
NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
Head of Early- and Mid-Career Research Development, Institute for Physical Activity & Nutrition Research, Deakin University Melbourne
Happy Academic blog
When I was in high school, I had no idea my current career existed. I was a categorical nerd and studied so hard I was on track to get the kinds of marks required for entry into a degree in medicine or law or the like. So when an admired teacher told me I should apply to study medicine, and that to not do so would be ‘a waste’, I duly submitted my application.
Thankfully I had enough nous shortly afterwards to realise that in fact I wasn’t that interested in medicine, and I changed my preferences to psychology. I’m glad I did, as I learned a valuable lesson that a far greater ‘waste’ would have been to follow a path that someone else, no matter how well-meaning, thought I should pursue, rather than the path that inspired me.
I was interested in people, and wanted a career where I was helping people, but I was less interested in their physical workings and more interested in how they thought and why they behaved certain ways. So psychology it was. I set out imagining a future as a clinical psychologist, working with people experiencing trauma, or stressful events, or psychological conditions.
Hooked on research
Not many students love doing university assignments, but I did (see earlier, re: nerd). I loved being challenged with a new question or problem, setting out to investigate it, collating and interpreting evidence and writing it up in a persuasive way. When I discovered that some people spend much of their lives doing this—i.e. research—I was hooked. Rather than continue on a clinical pathway I thought I’d first ‘just try’ applying for a PhD, so I could spend a bit longer indulging in research. Twenty years later I remain a full-time researcher, having enjoyed indulging so much that I never did turn back to that clinical path.
What I have retained though is a passion for helping people, and this has led me to shape my career in a way that I can also indulge that passion. It’s not in the fashion I once imagined but rather focuses on drawing on my research experience to help colleagues at early and middle stages of their own research careers. In my 20 years of full-time research in obesity prevention and public health, I have had so many opportunities—multiple research fellowships and the academic freedom that comes with those, inspirational colleagues, and international travel among them. But above all I have had wonderful mentors, and as a direct result have become the person I am today. I feel a moral imperative to pay this forward and use my experiences to benefit others. And I saw lots of others in my field who were struggling and facing many challenges as they set out on their own research careers.
So I sought opportunities in my current research role, which I still loved, to do so. I advocated to include capacity building and mentorship as key components of my institute’s mission. I volunteered to oversee early- and mid-career research development in my institute. And I started the Happy Academic blog to try to spread the mentorship as broadly as I could, knowing many EMCRs around the country and the world do not receive much by way of career support. The feedback has been wonderful, and the satisfaction that comes from knowing my support is helping in some way is immense.
Some key lessons from all this:
- Follow your passions (not someone else’s)
- But don’t follow too rigidly—be open to new paths you may not have considered
- There may be multiple ways you can indulge your passions or strengths
- Mentors and mentoring are vital
- Give back where you can
For someone who was once not even aware of such a role, I feel immensely fortunate to have a career combining these passions for research and helping others.
[Ed. If you know a senior researcher who is giving back to the EMCR community, please get in touch!]