This is a story of a young girl, 18, who started her love of learning from the first day she walked into Montessori East in 2003, at the age of three. She then graduated from primary school nine years later moving on to develop her passion for science and maths at International Grammar School, where she became DUX of the school and was awarded the NSW All Round Achievers for her HSC results. She recently won a scholarship to the prestigious University of Cambridge in the UK to study Natural Sciences and will start her 3-year degree this September.
“I am looking forward to exploring new areas of science at Cambridge that I wasn’t exposed to in high school,” she says. “There are a lot of things that excite me about studying there; I am excited to study in such an academic environment, be taught by world-leading scientists, meet new people and live in a beautiful city with buildings centuries-old.
Drawn to Cambridge due to its world-class reputation of being at the forefront of scientific research, Jessica chose a Natural Sciences degree as many undergraduate science degrees require specialisation in the first year.
“I am still not sure what area of science I want to specialise in. In the first year I will be studying a mix of biology, chemistry and maths.”
Montessori has played a significant role in how Jessica has approached her academic career. Learning to take control of her own education since she was young and adopting independence and self-motivation.
“I loved learning French with Sylvie in Cycle 1, watching baby chicks hatch after weeks of incubation, stretching the golden bead chain along the upstairs corridor, gardening with my peer group, sliding down sand dunes at camp, cooking club with Phil, learning to surf at Bondi Beach, packing boxes for the fruit and veggie co-op, running class meetings, receiving my graduation elephant from Raji, and more.”
Transitioning to high school from a Montessori school was a smooth change over for Jessica despite the fact she was moving from a year group of five to a year group of 100 students.
“While it was certainly a big change, I felt that the independence I learnt at early has certainly made an impact on how she approached higher education. Through high school I never found learning to be a burden placed on me by teachers or parents, but rather something that I actively enjoyed myself. I also think the opportunity to become a peer group leader while at Montessori gave me greater confidence in my leadership abilities than I would otherwise have had, and has encouraged me to take on other similar opportunities since.”
Aside from Jessica’s personal achievements, she happily recounts some fond memories about her time at Montessori East that only take a moment for her to list.
"Montessori helped me to better selfmanage my work schedule. I actually went to the same high school as another boy (Daniel Watson) in my year from Montessori, so it was really nice to see a familiar face around school, and we were in a lot of the same classes all the way through high school. I have unfortunately lost contact with a lot of my other friends from Montessori, but I would love to get back in contact with them.”
Jessica shares some great advice with all of us no matter how old we are or where we are at in our lives; and that is not to be afraid of aiming high. “I learnt so much during the Cambridge admissions process and was stretched far beyond the constraints of the high school curriculum. Even if I had not been offered a place, I would still think it was an experience well worth having.”
Jessica hopes part of her life will be around helping others. She recently volunteered at a turtle sanctuary in Sri Lanka and is considering scientific research as a career.
Jessica would love to hear from her Montessori school friends.