In high school, In2science mentor Emma Holder was lucky to have a teacher who had significant influence on her decision to study science at university. This teacher would often go on “mind-bending tangents during class” and Emma was left inspired by someone who was so intelligent and engaging, which in turn influenced her own curiosity and ambition.
This high school experience was an important motivator in Emma starting her own In2science journey when commencing studies at Swinburne University of Technology. Emma notes, “I wanted a chance to have a similar impact on someone, improve my science communication skills and break down stereotypes to inspire more gender diversity in the field”.
At Swinburne, Emma is completing a Bachelor of Science, majoring in physics with a minor in applied mathematics. This combination of specialisation and insight made for a perfect placement when Emma was matched with a Year 8 maths class at St Joseph’s College in Ferntree Gully in Semester 1. The placement was off to a challenging start when the COVID-19 pandemic forced all students to transition to remote learning. However, Emma was able to work weekly with a small group of students online. These students needed some extension to keep them motivated during this unprecedented time, so Emma focused on collaborative problem solving to keep them engaged.
In Semester 2 Emma took on an additional Year 12 student mentee with whom she quickly developed a rapport. Emma says, “Although most of our sessions were not focused on STEM subjects, we spent hours having deep philosophical conversations, sharing life experiences and talking about our hobbies. I felt like we formed a really lovely friendship”.
For Emma, the most rewarding thing about her studies is how natural phenomena can be described using mathematical language. Emma elaborates, “Physics is a field with so many real-world applications and there is always something new to learn that will make your brain hurt”. When thinking about life after university, Emma doesn’t know what she wants to do yet, but is fascinated by postgraduate studies in quantum or optical science.
We asked Emma what she’d like to say to the students in her In2science class as the year’s end approaches and she replied, “The people that do what they love are always the coolest in my eyes. I’ve learned that it’s important to be curious and open-minded, and that learning does not happen just from study, but from everything around you. For me, developing a passion for learning has been essential for my studies, but even more importantly… for my personal growth”.