New South Wales’ highest achievers have been honoured at a ceremony in Sydney for topping their class in HSC subjects.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called them the “shining stars of this years’ HSC” — 120 students who topped the 114 HSC courses.
We met three of the students who topped the state in a subject.
Rebecca Rosenberg — economics
Rebecca Rosenberg’s HSC year was harder than most.
At the start of Year 12 she lost her father, after a long battle with illness.
“It was a really difficult time for me but I had to persevere through it,” she said.
She didn’t just get through it, she topped the state in economics and now has her eyes set on a commerce degree at UNSW.
The news she had placed first in the subject came as a surprise to the 17-year-old.
“When I got the phone call last week I started crying, it was honestly the best feeling in the world, I didn’t expect it at all.”
Rebecca said she was inspired by her father to study the subject and to do her best.
“He never gave up through ill health or anything,” she said.
“I used his example which really inspired me to achieve first place in economics and never give up no matter what.”
Masih Ghasemi — Persian
Iranian refugee Masih Ghasemi also had a difficult HSC, moving to Australia just over a year ago.
A member of the Baha’I faith, Masih said attaining education and a job was very difficult in his home country.
“The members of this faith are under a lot of religious discrimination, a lot of prejudice coming from the government of Iran,” he said.
“They’re denied a lot of human rights.”
Masih said he was grateful for the opportunity to continue his education
“Since I’ve come here I’ve felt very welcome by the Australian society and the Australian Government, coming from a place where my existence was considered heresy,” he said.
“I can have my basic human rights, I can have a proper education, I can serve society to the best of my abilities.”
The 18-year-old achieved the top result in Persian and wasn’t too surprised.
“To be honest, I did expect to achieve high results,” he said.
But like all HSC students, he’s anxiously awaiting the final results on Thursday and Friday.
“Until I get my actual ATAR I’m not completely sure if I’m happy with what I’ve done.”
Serena Gao — software design and development
At just 16 years old, Serena Gao will be one of the youngest students at university when she begins next year, and could graduate a three-year degree by the time she is 19.
Serena said she was “excited and somewhat overwhelmed” to hear she came first in software design and development — a subject where nine out of 10 students are male.
She wants to inspire other girls to study the subject.
“IT is the future of society, software is only going to become more relevant so if you’re interested I’d say jump aboard the train,” she said.
Her mother Christine Gao said Serena was entirely self-motivated all through her HSC studies.
She said she was extremely proud but told her daughter “success is measured in the long-term. This is only the beginning”.