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SPARQ-ed Student Experience

Latina Bire is in Year 12 at Pimlico State High School, Townsville. In July 2018 she was afforded a Lions Medical Research Foundation Scholarship which allowed her to attend a SPARQ-ed immersion program at the Translational Research Institute in Brisbane. At this program, she was joined by High School Students from all around Queensland where they all joined forces to work on a science project. Latina has kindly offered to share a little of her passion for science with us.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m seventeen years old and currently completing my high school studies.

What drew you to be interested in science?

It is a universal saying that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. To be honest, my journey has been quite the long one. I spent some of my childhood living in PNG where my parents were working. Growing up in a remote, green valley paradise amongst the colourful array of flora and fauna was where my interest in science initially took its roots. When we take a step back from our urban surroundings and encase ourselves with nature and culture in its purest forms, one can’t help but to be drawn in by the beauty of the world and one can’t help but to wonder ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ I spent most of my time immersing myself with my natural surroundings. I was intrigued by the colours, aromas, tastes and textures around me. Despite going to a very small school with an almost non-existent science lab, I like to think that I had the biggest science lab in the world – my home.

Do you see science as your career?

Being an ever so curious human being, I cannot see myself doing something other than science. I would like to know the answers to the questions I’ve always asked myself and I sure would like to ask more questions.

If so, what stream of science?

I find people the most interesting thing in this world, so I definitely see myself studying a science course purely concerned with human beings and their welfare- a health science. I was exposed to remote conditions where I really saw the need for healthcare and the need for more health workers, so I am considering studying a medical science degree, preferably medicine, dentistry or pharmacy. I believe that pure scientific curiosity and research would not be significant unless it has a moral goal to make life better which is why I hope to work in a hospital environment.

How did you find out about SPARQ-ed?

I found out about SPARQ-ed through my school. Over the past years, many students from my school have been attending the immersions and when I reached senior school, I jumped at the opportunity. I did my research online and loved what I learnt from past student experiences.

What were the 3 key things you learnt from the SPARQ-ed Program?

I learnt so many things from SPARQ-ed and I’m quite embarrassed to say that most of it was not ‘science’ related at all. I learnt that in order to be a successful scientist, you have to be very persistent, resilient and have more than an inch of stubbornness. Like any other career field, science is a thriving world of new discoveries, new ideas and these do not all come that easily. From the researchers, teachers, management and communications people, and doctors I met in my immersion, I saw in them strong hope and determination. I have returned with a new layer of confidence and calm because I learnt that the simplest way to succeed is to never give up. Just as the man with the literal lightbulb, Thomas Edison said, you have not failed ten thousand times but you have figured out ten thousand ways that don’t work. This mantra truly applies to scientific research.

Was the Lions Medical Research Foundation scholarship helpful – and how was it helpful ?

The Lions Medical Research Foundation scholarship was certainly the reason that I attended this program. The travel assistance made it easy for me to book and plan my travels with ease. This only goes to show the amazing work that each of our local Lions Clubs do for young students like me. Next time you go to the shops, don’t hesitate to grab a hotdog from the Lions stands- it will help another kid’s dream take shape just like mine did.


Patron: His Excellency The Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland

The QLD & Northern NSW Lions Medical Research Foundation is a Deductible Gift Recipient so your donation will be tax deductible.

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