On reflection, Year 12 student Jackson Epworth wishes he hadn’t waited so long to join Student Council.

“Leadership runs in my family,” he said. “I want to be involved in stuff that changes and improves things. I’m on the Student Voice committee and our aim is to find out what students really want.”

Questioned about what he hopes to gain from his involvement in Student Council, Jackson challenged the question.

“It’s not about me,” he insisted. “Success is about doing something that benefits the whole college.”

“We lost our house in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires… everything. I was seven or eight and we were at the pool and suddenly all we had was what we were wearing or had in our car. My Dad started the Bendigo Bushfire Action Group. He never seemed to despair about what had happened or sit back and hope that someone would come and help us. He just got on with fundraising and moving forward. I want to be like that…”

Asked about his experiences at BSSC, Jackson said he has not had a single bad experience with any of his teachers.

“When we were in Year 10, we were warned about how hard the next two years would be. But everyone has been so helpful and kind. It really hasn’t been that hard.”

Jackson has always had an interest in computers. In Year 10 he undertook an exchange to the US where he realised for the first time the important connection between economics and computer network engineering.

“I had originally thought I would only focus on computers,” he said, “but the influence of that trip, a cyber-security workshop, and my Year 11 economics teacher, Prue, has helped me see I can combine the two. In fact, Prue made economics so interesting and relevant that many students have gone on to select it for their final year.”

As part of his studies, Jackson is involved in the VET Cisco program and the CBA Partner a Class program.

“The CBA program is excellent,” he said. “I now understand how a bank works. I have also had to get up and do presentations, so my public speaking and organisational skills are much better.”

But Jackson’s concerns and interests reach beyond what is happening locally.

“After my exchange program in the US I kept in touch with friends I had made and became aware of how school shootings impacted on them,” he said. “This latest Florida shooting is a kind of trigger for change.

“I also think those mass shootings should not be dramatised in the way the media present them. All this media attention just gives them power—unless it’s like that fantastic clip of John Oliver’s interview with the NRA!”

Finally, we asked Jackson what advice he would offer his 12-year-old self.

“Have fun! Don’t do drama. Take more opportunities in leadership roles. Don’t do specialist maths… too hard. Do maths methods. Buy bitcoin!” And finally… “Talk to your teachers. Let them know what you are struggling with and how you are really going.”