To say that the experience was transformative understates the impact the program had on me.
NYSF Staffie and Student, Patrick Haylock, is moving on from his role with NYSF to a new and exciting job. Here he reflects on his time with NYSF:
So I am reaching the end of my student career. Over four years of work will shortly produce one of the most important pieces of paper I will ever receive. This piece of paper, which I won’t possess for a few weeks yet, has already landed me an exciting job and the promise of a career. Whenever I go through periods of big changes, I tend to grow quite reflective. This time is no different, and I have been focusing on the events that have led to my current circumstances. No matter where I begin though, I always end up passing through my time with the National Youth Science Forum. To say that the experience was transformative seems to understate the impact the program had on me.
I attended the National Youth Science Forum in 2007 as a student and I returned twice as a “staffie” – NYSF participants who are invited back to work on the program. I came from rural Victoria and the opportunities to extend myself into areas of science were thin on the ground. The Forum presented a chance to break from this restriction and find out where my passion for science could take me. For the first time I could meet working scientists. But when I finally talked to them face-to-face it was not their work or the letters after their name that I found admirable. It was their passion, their kindness and their patience which affected me profoundly. They became role models for me as a young scientist. I used the opportunity to find out as much about the researchers as I could, with the intention of emulating their journeys. I can even trace my current degree choice to one scientist in particular, who conducted research in microbiology but had a PhD in geology. He talked me through his strange educational background and showed me that I could fearlessly follow my interests. I have followed his example and will be graduating with disparate majors in chemistry and philosophy.
This is sort of what the NYSF became for me, both as a student and a staffie. Whilst I learned a lot about potential careers, I learned even more about the sort of person I wanted to be. I was inspired to develop the skills I found exemplified by the students, staffies and scientist I met. These skills have given me a head start on my career. Because of the NYSF, I am graduating with confidence in my public speaking skills and my ability to communicate scientific ideas effectively and passionately. Most of all, I am graduating with an openness to life-long learning and new opportunities. The NYSF deeply affected how I see the world, and I believe that many of the successes I have had since the program in 2007 owe much to the time I spent there.
I will be beginning work as a chemistry patent examiner at the end of July. I will get to combine my love of science and philosophy into the one career, thanks in no small part to the sage advice of a scientist I met at the NYSF. My life could have taken many directions and I may have been in a dozen different circumstances right now. But of all those other circumstances, without the NYSF few would leave so many possibilities for me to explore.