Our 2022 IB Diploma students achieved the best results in the school’s history. We spoke to two passionate Maths and Physics students – Nick Langford and Sofia Brassington – who scored 44 (out of 45), to discover what their highlights of School were, their thoughts on the IB Diploma and their future plans.
Nick, whose favourite subjects were Maths, Physics and Computer Science, has accepted a co-op career development scholarship in Computer Science at the University of NSW. The scholarship provides industry training placements, professional development camps and a cash payment of $19,600 per annum.
“In the future, I hope to work as a software developer or similar,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed computer science my whole life because it’s an opportunity to solve real-world problems and implement challenging algorithms.”
What do you attribute your academic success to?
Perseverance (lots of practice papers); fabulous teachers with small class sizes, which meant they could give personalised feedback and tailor the lessons; and doing subjects I enjoyed, meaning I was interested in the course content and thus motivated to study. Also, the IB at SACS is a very tight-knit group. We would always help each other – if I had a question about my homework, I would send a message to the class Teams’ chat and have a response from a classmate or teacher in minutes. I would also study with friends at the State Library quite often before the final exams, which helped me stay focused.
What was your favourite subject of the Diploma and why?
It’s hard to choose between Maths, Physics, and Computer Science. I love problem solving, which lends itself well to the STEM subjects. I probably had the most fun coding my computer science assignment, a program to automate many areas of fencing coaching.
Why did you choose to do the IB Diploma?
There’s a common sentiment amongst students and teachers that the IB prepares students really well for university. Students are forced to be more self-directed in their learning, having to choose their own area of research for each assignment.
What skills or strengths do you think you developed while studying the IB Diploma?
The IB helped me improve my time-management skills through having to complete multiple assignments while juggling homework, sport and flute lessons. Also, the Extended Essay helped me develop academic research skills that’ll be especially helpful at university.
Do you have any favourite memories of your time at SACS?
The Year 10 Kosi-to-Coast 20-day camp was a highlight. I hiked through Kosciuszko National Park with a small group of friends, before whitewater rafting down the Snowy River. We had to hike 10-20km a day with heavy packs, before setting up our tents and cooking dinner. One moment in particular stands out to me – we had been hiking all day in the rain and hail, crossing freezing knee-deep rivers, before stumbling into camp. There was an old hut we were able to take refuge in, and we all sat around playing card games while the rain pounded on the roof above us.
Are there any aspects of St Andrew’s that you feel helped shape you into who you are today?
I met a great group of friends at SACS who shared similar interests and introduced me to new things like bouldering. Also, SACS has a strong design and technology faculty, which allowed me to study computer science through to Year 12. I was also able to participate in MakerSpace (a place to work on design/technology projects) on Friday afternoons, as well as the student-run AI Club. This helped me solidify my decision to study computer science at university.
What is your preferred course of tertiary study and at which university?
I have been offered a place to study computer science at UNSW. I was lucky enough to receive a co-op scholarship. This involves completing three industry training placements (internships), leadership and professional development camps, a support network, a graduate recruitment day, as well as financial support.
Sofia also had a passion for Maths and Physics subjects in the IB Diploma programme and has decided to study a double degree in actuarial studies and economics at the UNSW.
“Choosing a university course was difficult because I am interested in many different fields,” she explained. “I considered teaching, midwifery, engineering, actuarial studies, economics and paediatrics. In the end, I went through the university handbooks and looked at the specific subjects taught in each course. I also called the universities and asked them about job opportunities related to each course. I chose a double degree in actuarial studies with economics at UNSW because it is very maths heavy, which was my favourite subject in the IB Diploma, and it allows me to become a certified actuary.”
What was the highlight of your time at SACS?
It is difficult to think of only one highlight of my time at SACS. It would have to be the teachers. The teachers made my overall school experience a highlight. Each and every teacher put so much time and care into their students. This made me feel really valued as a student and as a learner.
What skills and strengths did you discover or develop while doing the IB Diploma?
The most significant skill I developed during the IB is organisation. With the heavy workload, you had no choice but to be very organised. I have taken these time management skills outside of the schooling context and into my everyday life.
Did you have a favourite subject or teacher?
All my teachers are so memorable for different reasons, but Mr Foster was a standout – and I think our Physics class would agree. When I started the Physics course I found it very challenging and was at a Band 4. Mr Foster was so encouraging and really pushed me to keep trying and not be discouraged. I ended the course with a Grade 7 – which I don’t think I would have accomplished without his encouragement. He truly cares about every student and is so passionate about the course.
Do you have a dream career in mind?
No. Even though I have chosen an actuarial studies degree, I don’t know if I will become an actuary. The course allows for a range of career paths, such as data analyst, data scientists, and finance-based careers. I hope that I will be able to use my understanding of maths, statistics and the economy to assist a company/cause that is positively impacting the social and/or environmental sphere.