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“Making friends at the NYSF was incredibly easy because I have never been amongst such a large group of like-minded people.”

Brett Slarks (Session A) and Meg Trinder-McCartney (Session C) 2016 are the senior student staff leaders for the NYSF 2016 program.

Brett attended the NYSF as a student in 2011 and he says that this experience changed his life. In the months leading up to the NYSF, he had some idea of what to expect, however, nothing could have prepared him for the journey he was about to embark on.

“Over the two-week program, through seminars, workshops, lab visits and guest presentations, the NYSF assisted me in understanding the many career pathways available in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and how to form my own pathway - and of course, the skills involved in science communication.”

“Making friends at the NYSF was incredibly easy because I have never been amongst such a large group of like-minded people.”

Student staff leaders welcome January 2016 cohort - content image

Brett Slarks Student Staff Leader Session A

Throughout high school, Brett had been quite confident that he wanted to study medicine at university. He recalls, “However, through my attendance at the NYSF, I became quite confused about what I wanted to study and this was the best possible outcome I could have asked for. I hadn’t yet explored other avenues available through tertiary education. The NYSF opened my eyes to the many career paths available in STEM and so I completed work experience in those fields that interested me.”

Not only had Brett’s options and career choices been broadened but so was his choice of where he could further his education beyond high school and his home state of South Australia. “Coming from a rural background, my knowledge of universities outside South Australia was limited at best. The NYSF and their partners made me aware of all of the possible opportunities across the country.”

Although Brett has come full circle, he chose to follow his passion. “I am now studying a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at The University of Adelaide knowing that there is no other course in STEM that interests me more. Studying medicine is very satisfying as I’m sure my career in this field will be too.”

“I have acquired countless new skills through my experience as a Student Staff member for the NYSF; no matter how much you give back to the NYSF, you always receive far more.”

Brett’s advice for the 2016 cohort: “To the students beginning their journey with the NYSF in January 2016, congratulations on making it through to one of the largest STEM networks in Australia.”

“To those attending Session A or C - be prepared for what you expect least. Being nervous in the lead up to Session is normal. I was petrified of the unknown, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the NYSF as a student.”

“I implore you take advantage of this unique opportunity because the program will go very quickly. (Post-NYSF Depression [PND] should nearly be listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-5] because it’s nearly a real condition).”

Meg attended the NYSF as a student in 2012, which she says was an unexpected turning point in her life in many ways. The experience she had over those two weeks has however influenced her life to this day.

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Meg Trinder-McCartney Student Staff Leader Session C

“Over the course of those two weeks I was able to learn from, converse with and be inspired by a diverse range of professionals in science, engineering and beyond, each of whom had carved a unique career path for themselves. Not only was I able to draw from the wealth of career advice they shared with us, but perhaps more significantly, I realised that it was possible for me to create my own path too.”

After attending the NYSF as a student, Meg had the opportunity to return as a staff member, an experience she is incredibly grateful for. “As staff members, we are given a huge amount of responsibility, but we are also fully supported in learning how to rise to this challenge. For me, this has led to phenomenal personal and professional growth, because I am constantly developing my skills in organisation, communication, leadership and managing group dynamics.” Meg found that these skills translated into other areas of her life, and have increased her capacity to take on opportunities life throws her way.

“To all the students who will be joining us in January, I congratulate and warmly welcome you. I recall that in the lead up to attending the NYSF as a student I was incredibly nervous. However, in hindsight there was no need to be - an unbelievable amount of fun, excitement, growth and inspiration awaits you in the January sessions, I feel very, very fortunate to be able to share this with you all.”