No matter if you’re in high school, finished a degree or already working, keep making the most of every opportunity and following your passions. Keep in touch with NYSF alumni; it is a truly phenomenal community and a great source of knowledge and opportunities.
NYSF 2014 alumna Renee Demeo has achieved so much since completing the Year 12 Program, and had some amazing experiences along the way; from cancer research, to being a youth advisor for the NYSF STEM Explorer Program.
"I attended NYSF in 2014, and five years on I am still reaping the benefits of this life changing experience. Since those crazy two weeks of meeting amazing people and seeing world renowned science in action, I have continued to be curious about the world and the people around me, and the opportunities they can bring.
After year 12, I pursued my passion for science through a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne. Thanks to the NYSF, I was exposed to many amazing areas of STEM, making me curious to learn more about them all. Hence a broad science degree was the logical option to allow me to pursue many diverse fields of STEM and more.
One of my biggest takeaways from NYSF was to make the most of every opportunity. If I hadn’t applied for NYSF, I would have never met so many inspiring people, or heard about their incredible achievements. From that point onwards, I was always finding ways to put myself outside my comfort zone. During my second year at university, I decided to go on exchange to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Again, it was such a rewarding experience, being totally independent in a foreign country, making friends from across the globe and getting credit for my degree in Melbourne.
Returning from exchange, I wanted to make the most of the University of Melbourne as I had the University of Edinburgh. I volunteered as a Science Student Ambassador, worked for the University of Melbourne as a Student Library Assistant, and got involved in the In2science mentoring program, assisting students in Year 8 at low socioeconomic schools in Melbourne to see the benefits of studying science.
I also applied to be a Youth Advisor for the NYSF’s STEM Explorer Program in 2018. It was an incredible opportunity to work with young people from all across South Australia, allowing them to see real world applications of what they study. It was a wonderful opportunity to share my love of science with others, and learn with the students about so many new and exciting areas of science, from visiting desalination plants to playing with the latest VR devices. Being a youth advisor also allowed me to learn a lot about leadership, teamwork and how to challenge and motivate young people, which has assisted me in many roles since.
All these opportunities allowed me to see the incredible array of jobs that exist for STEM graduates, making it more and more difficult to pick a specialisation and career path. I focused my studies on genetics, while also undertaking a concurrent diploma of mathematical sciences in applied mathematics. I chose genetics as I was fascinated by how such intricate interactions of proteins, nucleic acid and other seemingly simple elements within cells could dictate the function of an entire organism, but also wanted to continue studying maths for its wide reaching applications in all areas of life and work. This led me to do a research project at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). I was able to intertwine my love of maths and genetics through a bioinformatics project, researching mutinous ovarian carcinoma and some possible genetic signatures of the cancer.
Now, having graduated from my degree, I’m still unsure of what career lies ahead of me. I loved research, but since volunteering as a consultant and mentoring high school students throughout my degree I realised there are so many interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs in which I can use my STEM skills. This year I’m continuing to gain experience in as many areas as possible to help me decide on my next move.
So, no matter if you’re in high school, finished a degree or already working, keep making the most of every opportunity and following your passions. Keep in touch with NYSF alumni; it is a truly phenomenal community and a great source of knowledge and opportunities. And if you’re applying for NYSF or going in the future, get excited! I was super nervous before going, as I’d never done anything without my identical twin. However, I shouldn’t have been! The people you’ll meet are just as incredible as you are, passionate about STEM and wanting to learn more science. So have fun and put yourself out of your comfort zone, because it is only then you can grow and learn."