17 year old Courteney Paton from North Gosford has a love for science which began when she was just 3 years of age. “When I was little I wanted to discover my own planet” she laughs. “Science is exciting and youthful – it’s never boring. It’s ever-changing and dynamic. It excites me to think of the possibilities out there. “
Courteney was one of six students chosen to represent Australia at the Canada Wide Science Fair held in Canada in May as part of the International Program with the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) sponsored by Rotary Australia. With over 200 applications received, the selection process was lengthy, involving a written application with references from teachers and community leaders, then interviews to demonstrate her passion for science and her leadership skills. To be eligible for this program Courteney was selected to attend the NYSF program in January before being offered a place on a bio medicine PHD project in conjunction with Curtain University and the University of Western Australia in January 2014. It was from this placement that Courteney was targeted for the international program selection.
“There were so many inspiring scientific and socially minded people attending this forum, all there to encourage likeminded, passionate young people to challenge the way we think. We had dinner with Canada’s top astrophysicist, Jaymee Matthews, who was the first Canadian to build a space telescope. There were so many opportunities to speak and learn from top scientific minds. Likewise, I met some young scientists who are achieving amazing things such as a 17 year old girl who has created an extract from a plant which is proving to kill bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and cancers. The National Youth Science Forum demonstrated that there are many young people ready to explore new ways to improve the way we live our lives.”
Her science teacher, Mrs Amanda Eades, has encouraged Courteney’s love of science. “Courteney is an exceptional student who has an infectious passion for her studies in Science. It is a great achievement to be able to attend the International Program of the NYSF because it allows students to have an invaluable experience in the field of Science in which they are interested. Courteney has built excellent leadership skills and has inspired other students to get involved in Science projects.”
The St Joseph’s Catholic College student is studying Physics, Chemistry and Biology for her HSC later this year. She plans to study Biomedicine at university and will pursue a career in genetic engineering. “I hope I can inspire young people, especially young girls, to love science and to be open minded to the possibilities”.