Four BSSC students had what they all described as “a life-changing experience” when they attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in January. Emily Mannix, Sophie Keating, Yasin Mojtahedinyazd and Xiaoyan Wang (Yan) were sponsored by the Rotary clubs of Bendigo to attend the event that brought together high-achieving young people from around Australia with a passion for Science and a hunger for knowledge.

Sophie travelled to the ANU in Canberra and said it was an amazing experience to meet so many like-minded people.

“Every day was really intense with so much happening, from lab tours and lectures, to electives and lots of hands-on practical learning… there were plenty of social events too,” she said.

“Most of all, it was the people who made it such an unforgettable experience.”

Nasin attended the University of Queensland in Brisbane and said the NYSF has changed the way he looks at the world.

“It’s changed the way I feel about my future. Before the NYSF I was planning to study medicine, but I’m much more drawn to scientific research now. We learnt to see things differently and it’s really opened my eyes. It was hard to come home again… I missed it terribly.”

Yan’s NYSF experience was in Canberra and she describes it as a real boost to her self-confidence.

“As an international student with English as a second language, my time at NYSF really forced me out of my comfort zone and meant I had to do a lot of talking and sharing,” she said.

“Seeing what real-life scientists do, and having the chance to meet them personally, has definitely changed my goals. I’m interested in combining Chemistry with Engineering or Biology. It has opened up so many possibilities.”

Emily, who went to ANU in the same group as Yan, summed up the experience as simply awesome.

“For 10 days we were at the forefront of Australian science,” she said. “Not just taking tours and attending lectures, but actually having the chance to talk to scientists and ask questions.

“The study and career advice was amazing. I still want to study medicine after VCE, but going to the Australian Centre for Cancer research was really exciting and opened up a whole new range of possibilities.”

Rotary Youth Director, Lynne Cooper, said Rotary has been supporting local students to attend for 15 years.

“In Bendigo the combined Rotary clubs work with our senior colleges to assist students to apply for this amazing 10-day experience,” she said.

“Only a few hundred Year 11 students from around Australia are selected for this life-changing opportunity. Our role in Rotary is to provide the information and enthusiasm to the students and their parents before they apply. We encourage them to put forward their very best application and to be informed about the opportunities that NYSF can offer.

“All have been given a terrific career and personal ‘boost’”.