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Biomedicine, law, and French language studies. A list of subjects that are as interesting as the NYSFer that loves them!

Maya, a NYSF 2023 alum, has a passion for STEM that knows no bounds. This passion began through reading copious amounts of science fiction, and was nurtured by her chemistry teacher Lucy Thomas. Although, growing up as student in regional New South Wales, Maya says opportunities in STEM were limited.

“Living in regional Australia, I have had few opportunities to engage in the future of science, with those that I have been able to participate in and benefit from being online. For example, in Year 10, students get the opportunity to go on work placement with local businesses. However, I was unable to get work experience in the STEM field due to an absence of local science opportunities.”

The lack of STEM opportunities in her local community led her to seek out other learning and leadership experiences including participating in the United Nations Youth Negotiations competition, helping to organise the School Strike 4 Climate movement, and applying for the National Youth Science Forum.

Making an impact in STEM with Maya - content image

Maya, pictured second from the right, at a workshop at Monash University during the 2023 NYSF Year 12 Program.

Reflecting on her time at the NYSF, she says every session accumulated in a perspective shift that showed her the many different things she could do and explore in STEM. One of her main highlights was visiting The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

“It was amazing going to labs and being able to see where diseases like Ebola were being handled and researched by scientists looking for cures. It was incredible discovering that that is a job people can do. Imagine finding a cure for Ebola, imagine how beneficial that would be!”

Maya also recounted some of the most important lessons she took away from the program, including the impact STEM can have on the world and how STEM careers can be far more diverse than she ever imagined.

“I think the NYSF was very powerful in particular for demonstrating how STEM gives people the capacity to make change in the world"

"It emphasised that STEM work is not just being stuck in a lab, in a white coat. As much as I would really enjoy being a researcher it was really eye opening to know that you can still pursue your passion for science in so many other ways.”

Making an impact in STEM with Maya - content image

Maya, pictured in the middle of the front row, on a site visit to The Doherty Institute during the 2023 NYSF Year 12 Program.

Following the insights Maya received from her time at the NYSF Year 12 Program, she is eager to continue to make a difference in STEM, from medical research to continuing to advocate for action on the climate crisis.

“I would really love to work in cancer or Alzheimer's research. I think any progress or improvement made in these areas would be absolutely incredible to be a part of. I’m also very passionate about climate justice. Working to mitigate the climate crisis doesn’t just stop at researching renewable energies and cutting carbon emissions, it’s also in areas where medicine and healthcare provide relief for people that are affected. So it would be wonderful to be able to work in some form of medical capacity to help relieve those impacts of the changing climate.”

As for where she'll go next, Maya is keen to combine her love of science with her passion for debating and public speaking, and with her French language studies:

“I know I 100% want to do something related to STEM, but I'm also really interested in law, and it would be cool to merge that together. Public health has also become something that I'm interested in and it would be fascinating to have a look at how medicine or biomedicine can intersect with law and help to improve public health outcomes. And not just in Australia, I'd be really interested in helping out communities around the world too. It would be a dream to work for, or do something even remotely related to, the World Health Organisation. And because I currently do French Continuers at school, I’d really love to be able to further that too.”

We wish Maya all the best as she finishes her Year 12 studies, and look forward to seeing where she’ll make her next big impact!