Tamanna Bharaneedharan Dux, Class of 2023 – Transcript of Speech delivered at Scholars Assembly 7 February 2024

Tamanna Bharaneedharan Class of 2023 Dux returns to Strathcona Girls Grammar to share her Scholar's Assembly Speech.

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Carpe diem. It’s a somewhat misinterpreted Latin expression that means to seize the day, to make the most of your incredible life. Yet the word incredible doesn’t seem to do justice in describing the success of the Class of 2023, nor in celebrating Strathcona’s 100th anniversary of educating unstoppable young women. It’s an honour to speak here today and to reflect on the past, present and future with you all.

I came to Strathy in Year 9, following in the footsteps of my older sister. I was worried that as a newcomer to the school, I might struggle to integrate into a new environment – but I needn’t have worried. From those first steps into the beautiful campus of Tay Creggan, I could immediately feel the sense of warmth and belonging that I cherished most about my time here. I came to this school with an open mind and a willingness to try new things, even if they scared me at first. My experience with debating since Year 9 allowed me to make new friends and come out of my shell to become the person I am today. From leading the Arnold PAF Art Team to Music Camp in Year 11, these activities have truly helped to enrich my experience at school and have created some unforgettable memories. I implore all of you – especially you Year 7s – to seize the opportunities ahead of you and make the most of your Strathy experience.

Now, I could stand here and give you study advice that I’m sure you’ve already heard many times from your wonderful parents and teachers – stay organised, don’t sacrifice your sleep and so on. However, what I feel is more valuable is to impart the lessons that no one could have prepared me for – lessons that I had to go through myself in order to ultimately come out stronger on the other side.

Firstly, the importance of putting one step in front of the other. I’d often find myself worrying months in advance about stressful events – from receiving my ATAR to making it into my dream course. Having goals is essential towards achieving success; however, when we strain ourselves with the various ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’ of our individual journeys, we lose the composure that is needed to work towards these goals. Year 11 me would have rolled her eyes at this, but what is essential is grounding yourself in the present moment and looking towards those short-term wins – doing as well as you can in the next assessment, the next SAC, the next practice exam. All of these small wins that we can set for ourselves compound, helping us ultimately achieve our bigger goals and aspirations.

Secondly, at my last Scholar’s Assembly when I listened to the past high achievers emphasise the importance of balance, I admittedly never bought it. It was hard to fathom the idea of balancing my personal life with academics when I had five SACs looming the very next week. However – what I remember more about my Year 12 journey was not any individual SAC mark, but instead the memories I made with my wonderful friends who encouraged me to put the pen down to spend time together. Whilst high school may seem long, it’s ultimately a fleeting experience. Once you’re on the other side of it, it really doesn’t feel the same – and I’d encourage you all to seize the friendships and the camaraderie that I came to cherish during my time at Strathy.

I’d like to give thanks to the teachers who have helped to support and guide me throughout my academic journey. In particular, thank you to my VCE teachers who contributed towards achieving my ultimate goal of studying Medicine at Monash University. Thank you to my Chemistry and Biology teachers for sparking my interest in Science and developing my passion for medicine and giving me the quiet encouragement that helped me to succeed. To Madame Prior, your support fuelled my passion for French and has inspired me to continue to pursue the language. To all my teachers, whose feedback and encouragement shaped my voice for tirelessly marking my unrelenting stack of practice SACs and exams. Strathy’s teachers share the same commitment towards the success of their students, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their dedication and support. I’d also like to thank my parents, for the words of encouragement and unwavering support that kept me going through the year.

Finally – I’d like to address the Class of 2024 in particular. I recently re-read a letter from my Year 11 self that I wrote during the end-of-year Ormond College stay. The letter perfectly encapsulated my mood at the start of Year 12 – both excited and motivated for the year ahead, but also anxious about managing the demands of such a pivotal year. What I can say is that if you prepare yourself mentally – being able to accept your wins with humility and to recover from your falls with grace – Year 12 will prepare you for your futures better than you could have ever imagined. You’ve all heard it before, but VCE is truly a marathon – not a sprint – and through consistent and dedicated effort, I believe that you can achieve those goals you may have once thought unattainable.

You see, carpe diem is about more than seizing the day and living in the moment. It’s about recognising that your long-term goals take more than one day to succeed. It’s about showing up and putting in the effort every day to work towards them. It’s about realising that whatever you choose to pursue, if you give it your all, you are capable of leading an incredible life. After all, success isn’t final. Failure isn’t final. It’s the courage to continue that counts. Thank you.