BSSC students fortunate enough to attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) invariably describe it as a life-changing experience. This year, due to Covid restrictions, the whole program went online.

Despite not being able to travel to Brisbane or Canberra, Year 12 student, Mia Crimmins, says she was still able to forge new connections, albeit via group chats and zoom meetings.

“Even much of the application process was via zoom,” Mia says.

Students who participated were sent an app showing the schedule for events and each chose the topics or areas they were most passionate about.

“My favourite science session was on marine biology and included a virtual tour of a lab,” Mia says. “It was really interesting… as was a talk by an astrophysicist about his job.”

Mia describes the group chats as a highlight, still managing to make some amazing new friends who she still keeps in touch with.

Now plunged into Year 12 and hoping for a more normal year, Mia is relishing the culture at BSSC.

“It’s not cliquey here and I’ve made amazing friends through some really random situations,” she says. “I even have a few different groups of friends.”

She reflects back on her experiences of the ‘open classroom’ of her 7-10 college which she said didn’t work for her and contrasts this to the small class sizes she now enjoys.

But school wasn’t the only challenge. Mia also struggled through some personal stuff that she believes people either didn’t see or didn’t know how to respond to.

One of Mia’s challenges was overcoming self-consciousness about her appearance.

“For me, the way through was to better understand what was happening in my life and realise I could change things,” she reflects.

“I actually came to the conclusion that we all have issues and if I’m not upset or offended by others’ imperfections, why should I make such a big deal about mine?”

Perhaps unexpectedly, social media also helped Mia build her confidence about her appearance.

These days, because of the free-dress code at BSSC, she feels her creativity has found new expression and she feels comfortable to experiment with how she shows herself to the world; no longer plagued with anxiety about what others think of her.

“I think it’s really amazing the way diversity is handled here,” she says. “My friends say the Wellbeing team is fantastic and I love it that I can wear whatever I like and change my style whenever I want to.”

Asked how she thinks she’ll be remembered by her classmates, Mia hopes they’ll think of her as a nice person, but suspects they will best remember her for her willingness to get creative with clothes and make-up.

Mia also relishes being in control of her own learning and is consequently really looking forward to the rest of Year 12.

“I’m working more effectively and getting heaps done in my study periods which takes the pressure off outside of school,” she says. “I’ve actually had more time for my other hobbies and to spend time with my family.

“I want to be a positive role model for my sisters and I feel so lucky and grateful for my family who are always there for me.”

Mia enjoyed a great connection with her Year 11 English teacher and, despite a long interest in the sciences, has realised a passion for English she didn’t know she had.

“The teachers here are so friendly and I feel personally known by them,” she says. “There is banter and interest in what’s happening in your life that goes beyond ‘have you done your homework?’.”

Mia is also involved with the Student Leadership Team and would like to lead a sub-committee this year. Her motivation to join the team was to meet new people, which is exactly what’s happened.

“I do want to improve my leadership skills and deepen my capacity to be a good role model,” she says. “Of course, I hope this year we can have a formal and do things not possible last year, but I’m interested to see what others want to do.”

So, what would Mia say about BSSC to Year 10 students?

“It’s a great place for experiencing freedom and creativity.”

Long term Mia plans to study Engineering, Chemistry or Chemical Engineering, but she also has a nagging interest in Linguistics. Having German language as well as studying English Language keeps this possibility open.

Outside of school, Mia has a diverse range of interests that include baking, gaming, experimenting with make-up and online ‘window’ shopping.

“I don’t have a job at present, so I can’t afford to buy much, but I love seeing what’s on offer,” she says.

Music is a big part of her world and she mostly listens to Japanese anime, indi or otacor music—compositions based on games, movies or TV series.

Listening to music while she studies works for Mia. She also uses a wide range of online resources to back up her learning as well as the support of those around her.

“The students in my German Language class are a great help,” she says.

When asked about her proudest achievements, Mia prefers to focus on her overall development as a person.

“If I do a good job at something, rather than feel ‘proud’, I tend to think about how far I’ve come.”