When did you develop an interest in your chosen field and private tutoring?
My interest in mathematics started since starting high school in year 7. I was not a strong maths student during Primary School, having even failed maths tests. I did not come from an academic family either, my family having migrated to Australia in 1995 from Palermo, Italy. My older two brothers did not do well in primary school and high school growing up in Australia since they had to learn English whilst also learn in a class full of native English speakers.
Consequently, they never found interest in studying and received relatively low ATAR scores that significantly reduced their chances of studying at university. Moreover, they attended a relatively poor performing Secondary School in the Northern Melbourne suburbs. I wanted to break the cycle of my family's lack of academic qualifications. My mum's efforts to obtain a Bachelor of Law as a mature age student inspired me. She later went on to get a Masters of Law at the University of Melbourne.
I picked mathematics as my main area of focus when I started high school because I believed that if I could get good at mathematics, I could become proficient in just about any other area of academia. It was also my 'kryptonite', and I endeavoured to become as best as possible to challenge my perception that I was just not smart enough to do well in Maths.
I tried to develop self-discipline and self-critique at an early age to achieve this desire I had of being good at Maths. I remember the first ever Maths test I did in year seven that I studied hard for. I felt, nevertheless, too scared to even look at my mark once the teacher handed my graded test back to me. I had received 90%, which had truly surprised me and ultimately challenged what I thought I knew about my potential and my abilities at the time.
I continued developing my self-discipline, new effective learning techniques, and exam-taking strategies throughout my high school years. In year 9, I received '100' for maths on one of my report cards for the year after having aced three maths tests in a row.
In two years, I had come a long way with my mathematics progress. My success in maths allowed me in the accelerated maths stream in year 10, which felt like quite a leap for me. However, crucial for further development in my mathematics learning. There were sporadic feelings of 'imposter syndrome' I had to overcome. Ultimately, I had developed such a deep interest in mathematics that led to exceptional study scores in my year 12 maths subjects.
Likewise, I did not believe in my abilities when it came to science during high school. I had never really enjoyed biology or chemistry and decided to drop science in year 10.
In year 11, I had a timetable clash with one of my top preference subjects, global politics, meaning my two chosen standby subjects had to replace global politics to address this clash. It was out of VCE Philosophy 1/2 and VCE Physics 1/2 (I picked VCE Physics 1/2 as my very last preferred choice). By sheer randomness, the timetable manager selected VCE Physics 1/2. I had to do a science subject after dropping science in year 10, putting me in a disadvantageous position relative to my peers.
I was somewhat distraught by the clash, but I recognised that there is some overlap between physics and maths and that I was not fond of biology or chemistry that much in science but never really gave physics a proper chance.
The irony was that physics would later become one of my best subjects in year 12, where I received a study score of 42 in VCE Physics and even achieved 100% grades in a few SACs (assessment-based tests in VCE) this time. In particular, one quite challenging SAC we did in class involved electromagnetism, electronics and wave motion. I was one of three to received a perfect score out of a course of about 83.
I had just kept an open mind to a subject I didn't expect to have an interest in at all. Somehow, I developed a profound interest in Physics and went on to study Physics at university for a couple of years. Studying Physics at the university level entailed studying mathematics prerequisite subjects, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing.
As far as tutoring goes, I was usually one of the most approached students amongst my friendship groups for help with upcoming maths tests or assignments. Before tertiary studies, I had more of a 'lone-wolf study style but wanted to do my best to help those who I felt close to. I also had tutors during year 12, which gave me the idea of becoming a tutor since I felt I could help make seemingly 'difficult' concepts intuitive to understand for others.