Alumnae provide words of wisdom to HSC students

13 February 2020

Three of Meriden’s 2019 HSC High Achievers have returned to school to advise current students about the most effective way to achieve success in the HSC.

Emily Lao, Tilda Stafford and Daniela Zapata Rincon addressed the school at Assembly on Monday with messages of hope and encouragement, along with practical advice for thriving academically in what can be a stressful period for many young people.

The three graduates offered a number of effective study tips, including creating study planners, breaking down tasks into small, achievable blocks and finding exciting new ways to study, like brushing up on languages other than English by watching foreign language films or solidifying English coursework by talking through new theses with friends.

However, the girls’ most poignant advice centred on strategies to support physical and emotional wellbeing, including  fuelling one’s body with healthy food, water and plenty of sleep.

“You have been doing exams your entire school life and you have survived each and every one – you know you are more than capable of doing well,” Emily said.

“But the HSC is an emotional marathon and the real battle is psychological; it’s about learning how to healthily handle the inevitable overwhelming emotions that come with undertaking Year 12…Your wellbeing needs to be a Band 6 in order to get Band 6’s!” she said.

Tilda also emphasised that during the HSC, organisation is important, but balance is essential.

“Maintain your friendships, keep supporting one another by checking up on how your friends are coping,” she said.

“I tried to avoid studying at recess or lunchtimes so that I could have some much-needed rest and fun with my friends. Enjoy Year 12, it’s the last year you’ll be with this group of people and you will make amazing memories, even in the little moments.”

She said the HSC is a learning curve and what matters most is one’s ability to grow.

“It’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone will. See them as learning opportunities. I got a mark I really wasn’t happy with in Legal Studies in Term 1 but I just had to bounce back and keep going. Failure isn’t always a bad thing. And it’s never the end of the story,” she said.

Daniela reminded the girls to be open to all avenues of support and find ways to share the HSC experience with trusted people.

“Your parents will always want to help you and you should let them,” Daniela said.

“I’m not one to ask for help often. I was born in Colombia and my parents speak English as their second language so sometimes they struggle with language, especially with HSC English. But they wanted to help with what they could. My mum and I would walk the dog and read my essays, trying to memorise the key points. I would read out the quotes and she’d correct me when I made mistakes. This may sound like a small thing but it really helped me.”

Emily Liao has been accepted into Medicine at the University of New South Wales and looks forward to undertaking medical missions in the future.

Tilda Stafford is undertaking a combined Law/International Studies degree at the University of New South Wales. She plans to practise human rights law on the international stage.

Daniela Zapata Rincon has accepted a place at Harvard University, where she will be a member of the university’s elite water polo team while undertaking a degree in molecular and cellular biology. Daniela aspires to become a researcher in genetics, cancer biology or immunology in order to benefit the health of people in developing countries.