A career in Chemical Engineering is the future focus for Year 12 student Alia Melgin-Hill.

“I want to become a Process Engineer and work with biofuels,” she said, but eventually become a project manager because I really enjoy leadership roles. One example of the use of biofuels is using rubbish to power our electrical devices and cars—to reduce coal power.”

Even if these plans do not eventuate, a degree in Chemical Engineering allows Alia a wide choice of careers, including the cosmetic, food, agriculture and many others industries.

“I’m also pleased that AI (artificial intelligence) is unlikely to wipe out this career!” she said.

In the meantime, Alia (pronounced ar-lee-ah) will graduate with Cert II in Engineering as part of her VCE by the end of this year.

“I really like VET Engineering—the metal work: grinding, cutting and fabricating,” she said. “Last year I had work placement with Melbourne Water and it great.”

Alia spent Years 7 to 11 at East Loddon Secondary College and came to BSSC at the start of Year 12 so she could study economics in a classroom setting with a teacher.

“I did Economics units 1 and 2 by Distance Education and that was fine,” Alia says, “but it’s now one of my favourite subjects. I’m pretty much loving everything about BSSC. The teachers are so helpful. The facilities are great—like the library—and I loved events like Anzac Day, ‘Whole New World’ and ‘It’s Time We Talked’.

“BSSC feels very uni-like to me. I treat it like a stepping stone. And, because I am okay with making new friends and adapting, I feel like it has not been too much of a transition. My sister (who is also here at BSSC in Year 11) and I have also joined the ‘Cooking on a Budget’ sessions and we’re really enjoying that.

“If there was one thing I would change about this school, it’s G-Block: it’s desperate for renovation.”

Other than school, Alia has a wide range of interests. She swims (breast stroke) and competes in middle-distance running, both at State level. Alia intends to keep up the swim teaching she has been doing and perhaps use it as an income stream while she’s at uni. Not surprisingly, she is involved in the college’s Specialist Sports Program. Alia also models clothes and swimwear.

“The agency I work for talks a lot about having a positive attitude to your body,” she said. “For example, if you have freckles you might feel that’s a problem, but someone is bound to call up and request a model with freckles!”

Modelling is another possible side-job for the uni years. In the meantime, as well as breeding poultry and caring for their family’s nine year-old donkey, art and poetry round off Alia’s diverse interests.

She usually enters her artwork into the Raw Arts award, but her crowded curriculum has no space for her to study art as a subject.

“I’d also love to publish a poetry book,” she said, “but there’s lots of work still to do.”

In terms of global issues, Alia is unimpressed by the US with its protectionist policies. She is also disturbed by Australia’s immigration policies and the abuses on Manus Island.

“I admire Finland where the education system is so good. I know a little about Finland because my Mum’s parents are both Finnish.”

When asked what advice she would offer her 12-year-old self, Alia said, “Definitely start on the road to Maths Methods early. Year 11 is too late! I have managed, although it’s not my favourite subject—and I do need it!”