BSSC Year 12 student, Nathan Inglis, is aiming for a career in IT, with a particular interest in 3-D design and hardware, programming, and helpdesk technology.

While he’s excited about the current and future applications of technology, he has some concerns about the amount of faith some people seem to place in tech and wonders about the consequences of power failures and program crashes.

“Most people will have a major problem with their computer or phone at some point,” he says. “But what if the technology that fails is a chip in your head? How will we deal with that?”

Despite his uneasiness about where tech might lead us, Nathan loves gaming.

“Even though I enjoy a sim car racing game, I have no interest in living in a house that is fully integrated with technology,” he explains, “or talking to a robot counsellor.”

It was IT subjects that first drew Nathan to consider BSSC. Despite the college being an hour by train from his home, it was the only place that offered the IT subjects Nathan wanted.

He is studying VET Info Technology, VET CISCO, English, Maths, and Music Styles and Composition and really enjoys all his subjects.

“I had this significant moment when I realised I was in the perfect place,” he says. “I’d settled into my classes, had great teachers and also made some fantastic friends.

“It’s been great for my motivation to have friends who are committed to their studies.”

As you read this article, spare a thought for the 10% of Australians who, like Nathan, have dyslexia.

Nathan also deals with the challenge of dysgraphia. This means that not only is text-based communication hard work, but handwriting is also a world of endless frustration.

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are not related to intelligence, but people living with them can find their confidence takes a big hit.

Nathan says some of his past schooling experiences were very “demotivating” and made him feel self-conscious about revealing his struggles with reading and writing, or admitting he learnt differently to others.

Nathan describes a “step-by-step” process to overcoming his challenges.

“I like the metaphor of walking up a hill,” he says. “These days I feel like I’ve reached the top and dealing with my dyslexia and dysgraphia has become a kind of an automatic process. I’ve also had great support from all of my teachers.”

As well as day-to-day support, the Wellbeing staff organised special provision allowances for Nathan and he also has a maths tutor.

“I just had to ask for help,” he says.

His willingness to ask for support has paid off big time, and his SAC results have improved with every test.

Right from the start Nathan also decided to get involved with BSSC’s Student Leadership Team (SLT). Not only has SLT been a way to participate more in the life of the college, it’s also improved his capacity to work with others.

“One of the positive changes I’ve noticed in myself over the past 18 months is how much I can learn from other students,” he says.

“As I listen to other SLT members bounce ideas around, I’m exposed to so many different perspectives. Everyone respects the diversity of opinions and that’s helped me appreciate it too.

“Covid has obviously affected how much SLT can achieve, and I found the lockdowns pretty challenging.”

Two really useful approaches Nathan developed while studying from home were, firstly, to sit away from gaming temptations and, secondly, to tell himself, ‘I’m going to learn something right now’. It made a huge difference and proved to him how important his mindset can be.

Unsurprisingly, his gaming was completely unaffected by lockdowns, but other interests weren’t so lucky. His music lessons and his role as Youth Leader at his local youth club—a responsibility he is very proud of—essentially had to stop.

Nathan has been playing violin for ten years and his lessons could not continue during the lockdowns. Being able to study music at BSSC has provided some compensation.

“I probably play my violin a couple of times a week at the moment,” he says.

Nathan enjoys such a wide range of music that being asked to pick a favourite piece is challenging.

“Perhaps the theme from Schindler’s List?” he wonders.

But, when asked which person—living or dead—he would most like to have a conversation with, Antonio Vivaldi is the name that comes to mind. Nathan would ask the composer about his creative processes.

Whatever gratitude Nathan feels for his violin teacher and the opportunity he’s had to become a musician, this is eclipsed by his gratitude for his family.

Their support as he adapted to his learning challenges has been invaluable.

“There are so many other things too,” he says. “Perhaps the most important thing is the way they taught me to treat other people.

“Learning to put yourself to one side—to really listen to another person—even if you don’t agree with them, or don’t even like them—is really important.

And if Nathan could go back and offer some advice to his 12-year-old self?

“I would say, ‘ask for help when you need it’. Once I began to do this, I discovered that being open and honest didn’t mean people would think negatively about me. I just got a whole lot of the help I really needed.”