Country to Canberra Award winner, a great writer and thinker at just 16, Isabella Ennever shares with us some inspiring thoughts and her experiences so far.
Q – Hi Isabella, congrats on all the success so far! What job did you want to do when you were little?
A- From a young age I dreamed of riding in the Olympics and becoming a vet for the most elite stables. From when I turned 8, I spent every weekend competing at horse riding events, attending clinics and participating in training days. I competed so much and travelled so far that a four-and-a-half-hour drive to an event became a standard weekend trip. I fell into love with the adrenalin of the eventing discipline, the combination of skill and courage it took to succeed and ensuring the optimum health of the horses.
Q – When did you first get interested in doing STEM and why?
A – Although I worked hard and achieved decent grades in science, I had too much doubt in my abilities initially to really gravitate towards STEM during early high school. However, in Year 9, I got an amazing science teacher that changed my entire perspective of STEM. Very quickly, she broke down every stereotype about the background. I thought I needed to have to be good at science and instead showed me that success in STEM only depended on hard work and passion. I began to love the subject’s complexity and, much like the feeling of elation that harmonising with a 600kg horse on a cross country course brought me, I began embracing the incredible, overwhelming impression that STEM gives you when you realise just how big the world is.
Q – What do you like most about STEM?
A – I think of STEM as a little bit like humanity’s magic wand. Although we can’t click our fingers and make it rain or ask a genie for three wishes, STEM turns the things we thought were impossible and unachievable, into incredible reality. It is difficult to describe in words how absolutely astonishing it is for people to generate their ideas, little electric signals that pass through their brains for a handful of seconds, into new technologies and applicable principals that people in the past had absolute certainty that there was no possibility for. That’s what I love most about STEM, the freedom and versatility it promotes within discovery and forwarding thinking and the platform it provides for people to work towards anything they put their mind to.
Q – How do you think that STEM can benefit society?
A – We witness every day the physical benefits that STEM provides in terms of comfort, safety, communication and the exiting exploration into the unknown. So I believe that STEM’s greatest benefit to society is the characteristics it shapes in individuals. STEM encourages and nurtures creativity, innovation and open-mindedness, all qualities that contribute to larger social structures by building patterns of cooperation and problem-solving. Integrating more critical thinkers with backgrounds in STEM into political processes and general leadership positions would instigate change with the potential to combat the greatest issues plaguing society through the application of scientific perspectives.
Q – If you could do any job in the world what would it be?
A – If I could have the occupation of my dreams it would be to enter a research career in aerospace medicine. Biology has always been my favourite science subject at school, particularly physiology and biochemical concepts, and I quickly developed a deep fascination for space science after reading Stephen Hawking’s ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’. My greatest ambition is to work at NASA and assist in colonising Mars, as well as explore the possibility of other life in the Universe. Through this pursuit, I also want to create a platform to advocate for women in STEM, which is something I am incredibly passionate about and dedicated to. I’d like to study science communication and journalism and use these skills to support other women in reaching their goals, particularly those from a rural background where the opportunities and resources needed to enter a career in STEM are mostly inaccessible or under-utilised.
Q – What advice do you have for students about doing STEM and getting into a STEM program?
A – My advice for anybody interested in STEM as a hobby or an academic pathway is not to doubt the gravity and impact of your unique and individualised ideas. You don’t need to be a super-genius, or someone in close contact with an abundance of resources, to embrace STEM as a passion. You only need resilience to work towards your goals and courage to apply your personal experiences and perspectives to problem solve in new ways. One discovery tomorrow could disprove any of the fundamental ideas we have about the world around us and, if this happens, imagination and adaptability will progress you further then any amount of logic ever will.
A high achiever in high school, Isabella has been one of the recipients for the Southern Cross University Deputy Vice Chancellor’s Year 10 Academic Excellence Award. She has been a scholarship holder for the Harding Miller Education Foundation and the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship through the Public Education Foundation.
Isabella’s ‘Country to Canberra’ winning entry can be read here.
Author: Dr Astha Singh
Astha is the Managing Editor at Refraction Media. She is a STEM Marketer and holds a Honors, Masters & PhD degree in Science. She has been producing STEM marketing content for over 10 years and is an avid advocate of Diversity in the STEM industry.