Alyssa came to Australian from Malaysia in 2014. She settled in quickly, perhaps because her parents had both studied in Australia and her mother is an English teacher. Now in Year 11 at BSSC, Alyssa says she’s been lucky to have a familiar face in every class.

“It makes me feel more like I belong and can even welcome others.”

She is very happy with her subject choices, but her favourite is Chemistry.

“For a start, Jane is an amazing teacher. I also believe chemistry is the science that links all sciences. It includes maths, science, philosophy and English and it makes me realise how everything is somehow, almost magically, connected.”

Although Alyssa is not sure whether she will become an Environmental Scientist or get into politics, she has a palpable concern about ecological damage and sustainability. She has even set up a Facebook page to highlight environmental issues. It’s called 41,415 which is the number of species that are presently endangered.

“If we don’t change, the earth will die,” she says.

Clearly unafraid of hard work and commitment, Alyssa’s important roles models are girls’ education advocate, Malala Yousafzai, and gender equality campaigner, Emma Watson. But Alyssa’s philosophy of inclusion and respect for life is not just focused on global issues.

“When people don’t consider that everyone has their own unique story, or if they dismiss another’s experiences or feelings—or even highlight certain events or people so others are by extension, put down, this is really awful.”

When it’s time for Alyssa to change focus, she has plenty of interests to choose from: singing, acting, playing guitar, swimming, listening to music, volunteering at her church, a part-time job… AND she’s treasurer of BSSC’s Student Council.

Alyssa joined Student Council for a number of reasons, including a philosophy of ‘why not?’ She brings valuable experience from having been on the Victorian Student Representative Council (Vic SRC) since Year 8, and is presently also part of their executive.

“I was involved in projects that helped get the ‘Respectful Relationships’ program and ‘Student Voice’ into Victorian State Schools,” she says.

As part of her role on Student Council Alyssa is involved with the Student Voice Committee—one of her passions.

“As well as managing the budget, I really need to hear what students at this college want their Student Council to do,” she says. “We have set up an email so students can send messages directly to us, and we hope to open up our meetings to any students who would like to come.

“I feel like everyone on Student Council is really listening to each other in a respectful way. We really want to make a difference.”

Asked what advice she would give her 12-year-old self, Alyssa says: “Think beyond your studies. It’s not just about the marks. Develop yourself and get involved with community stuff early. Try and find out who you are.”