When BSSC Year 12 student, Zac Llewellyn, is not engrossed in his VCE subjects or working in his part-time job, he enjoys challenging his mind in other ways—and not just the occasional raffle or guess-the-jelly-beans-in-a-jar kind of competitions!

Along with three mates, he is presently a contender in two significant events. One is the International Maths Modelling Competition which challenges teams to devise an equation that solves a real-life problem. For example: which hospital is the best at treating a particular ailment?

The other is a business challenge, the Blue Shift Business Case Competition. Last year the challenge was to overview an airline company and devise strategies to move the business forward.

“I found the competitions online, Zac explains, “and got a team together for each one. Then we asked teachers from Maths and Business to be our supervisors.”

These two competitions sit perfectly alongside the aspirations Zac has for his future. He wants to either study finance and economics or combine business and STEM (a combination offered by ANU). With Specialist Maths, Zac’s favourite subject, both these options are natural pathways.

Zac’s transition to from BSE to BSSC was “quite smooth”—partly because he’d taken Extension Maths during Year 10.

“I’ve been surprised how much the standard ramps up once you move from Year 11 to Year 12,” he says. “You’re no longer just one google click away from an answer because everything is much more specialised. But I really like that challenge.”

The benefits of BSSC’s extra-curricular Specialist Maths/Science program has added to Zac’s sense that he’s pushing new boundaries constantly—something he describes as a “breath of fresh air”.

Nevertheless, he is glad to have the first term of Year 12 over and done with. The highlight? Getting an A in English Language, a subject he really enjoys, but the one he struggles with most.

As well as the Specialist Maths group, Zac is part of the two-year Partner-A-Class program that is offered to all Economics students.

“Right now, we’re practicing the process of applying for a significant job at the CBA,” he says. “Part of the process is being interviewed by an executive at the head office in Melbourne.

“Overall, I really appreciate how supportive all my teachers are. I have no favourites because each has their own style.”

When asked what study advice he would offer, Zac has this to say: “Study harder in subjects you are struggling in—not what you are finding easy. And take on as many opportunities as you can—even outside your usual areas of interest because everything is a learning opportunity.”

In fact, as Zac considers the last six years or so, he wishes he had had that ‘click’ moment—realising the value of putting yourself into situations that you can learn from—earlier.

“I wish I’d gone to more science camps and taken up other opportunities I passed up,” he says.

Globally, he is concerned that people seem to blindly follow one or two media streams and don’t make an effort to listen to a variety of ideas in order to get a wider perspective.

“It’s not that people necessarily lie, it’s how things are worded, and what’s weighted as more or less important,” he says, “I like taking bits and pieces from lots of people. Also, there is the issue of monopolies. For example, how would a new media company actually break into the global market now?”

However, Zac also feels we are starting to bounce back to a more tech-focused view of the future.

“Space programs are getting up again and people like Elon Musk are pushing the boundaries of what we think we can do,” he says. “I also admire business people like Jeff Bezos, who has maintained so much control of Amazon, or Tony Robbins, who is an incredibly popular life coach and author.

A highlight of 2019 for Zac was attending National Youth Science Forum (NYSF). He really enjoyed the entrepreneur sessions which were still ‘techie’.  Most inspiring to him were the small start-ups with 1-2 people who managed to combine their business interests with STEM.

“A major emphasis at NYSF is ensuring students meet like-minded peers from across the country,” Zac explains. “I now have a whole new group of friends and I would 100% recommend NYSF—even if you’re not that into science. You go there to be inspired, and there is so much in the experience that will make your future better.”