2020 ATAR success stories

Chuting (Tina) Tang - Balwyn High School

City, country of origin
VCE subjects ATAR
Hangzhou, China
Reading, swimming, writing, and watching TV
English as an Additional Language (EAL), Maths Methods, Specialist Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Chinese First Language

Tina Tang 2020 - Balwyn HS.jpg

"As an international student, I was so glad to have the chance to study in Melbourne, and especially, in Balwyn High School. It was so exciting to see the '99.95' on my screen and I know that it would be an impossible ATAR to obtain without the support from my teachers and classmates. 2020 has been a tough year, but Victorian students all have worked very hard. So I want to tell future VCE students that, as long as you try your best with constant effort, nothing is impossible.", said Tina.

In the most tumultuous year 2020, Tina felt fine overall but the biggest challenge for her was to adapt to remote learning. She overcame this challenge by planning out her daily learning schedule every morning so she could continue learning effectively outside the school. 

In 2020, Tina was the winner of the Year 11 Academic Excellence and Student Leadership Awards at the Victorian Global Learning Awards in recognition of achieving her academic goals and also getting involved in a wide range of extra-curricular activities. See, Victorian Global Learning Awards.

Tina is an outstanding scholar who has won many awards for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Chinese Language and Public Speaking. As a student ambassador, Tina uses her strong communication skills in both Chinese and English to guide parents and visitors on tours of the school. She also holds a first aid certificate and was a youth volunteer with St John Ambulance, as well as a registered volunteer with the Overseas Chinese Education Foundation (OCEF), helping underprivileged children in rural China to access education.

"I believe it is important to force yourself to overcome the problems you met as a leader, and your confidence will accumulate through your leadership journey.", said Tina.

Balwyn High School's principal, Deborah Harman, said, "She has impressed her fellow participants with her intelligence, work ethic and appreciation of global issues and solutions. She has been a wonderful student leader at Balwyn High School and has positively impacted on current and future ISP students that follow her."

Tina's first preference is Medicine (including a Master's degree) at Monash University in 2021.

Thao Phuong Dao - Braybrook College

City, country of originInterestsVCE subjects
Quang Ninh, Vietnam
English as an Additional Language (EAL), Specialist Mathematics, Mathematical Methods, Vietnamese First Language, Accounting and Business Management

Thao Phuong Dao bio photo.jpg

"Thanks to a versatile and diverse curriculum coupled with tremendous support towards international students from the school and the Department of Education as a whole, now, after 2 years of studies here, I can honestly say that my study journey couldn't be better.", said Thao Phuong with her VCE experience.

2020 has been an extraordinarily challenging for Year 12 students. Students had to undertake mandatory remote learning, which interrupted Thao Phuong's study to a great degree. Along with it, her workplace was closed during the lockdown and as an overseas student visa holder, she was not eligible for the JobKeeper payment. In spite of this hardship, Thao Phuong managed to graduate with an incredible ATAR and became the Academic Achievement Award Recipient of her school.

"These accomplishments would not been achieved without the wholehearted support from my school and family. I'm currently having two part-time jobs in order to save up for school fees, while awaiting other offers and scholarships. This foregone stressful year has definitely served to strengthen my perseverance to pursue my future academic and personal goals.", said Thao Phuong with her experience in 2020.

Thao Phuong is planning to do Computer Science at university.

Sara Youssef – Frankston High School

City, country of originInterests
VCE subjectsATAR
Menofia, Egypt
English as an Additional Language (EAL), Biology, Maths Further, Maths Methods, Health and Human Development and Chemistry

Sara Youssef 1.jpg

The conclusion to Sara's Frankston High School story is one of success which was due to her persistence and the empathy that she has extended to others. Sara has always thought education is power and she can change anything with it. She also thought of her family who worked hard to bring her here and wanted to show them that their work had paid off. Sara overcame these challenges through the support of her teachers and most importantly changing her mindset and attitude.

"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.", said Sara.

Frankston High School's International Student Coordinator, Sharon Koning, said: "Sara was always focused on her study and worked to the best of her ability at all times.  I also had the opportunity of seeing Sara outside of school as she worked part-time in the local pharmacy and balanced this with her Year 12 study until near the end of the year and needed to have a few weeks from this to focus on her exams.  Her customer service and friendly, polite manner were evident both at school and in employment. Our school wishes Sara all the best in her future study and we are very proud of her achievements and attitude to study and life."

Frankston High School staff commented that Sara should be most proud of her growth as a person and her integrity, and thanked her for the enduring legacy she has left at school. 

Sara wants to do Medicine at university and intends to do Nursing to see what type of area is of most interest to her.

Zihan (Hanson) Tang – Warrandyte High School

City, country of originInterestsVCE subjectsATAR
Nanjing, China
Playing basketball and chessMaths Methods, Specialist Maths, Physics, Chinese, English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Chemistry98.45

Tang, Zihan.jpg

Hanson received a lot of support from his teachers and staff at Warrandyte High school. "They are very kind and gave me courage and motivation to perform at this height. I went pretty well last year and faced few challenges with the help and care from teachers.", said Zihan.

Warrandyte High School's Assistant Principal, Joe Caruana, commented: "We are so very proud of Hanson, our international student."

Zihan is keen to study Commerce/Economics and Business at the University of Melbourne. 

Nicharee (Pingping) Scrichan – Rowville Secondary College

City, country of originInterestsVCE subjectsATAR
Koh Samui, Thailand
Photography, cooking and science and health science
English as an Additional Language (EAL), Further Mathematics, Maths Methods, Biology, and Chemistry

Nicharee (Pingping) Srichan.jpg

"2020 was a year which allowed me to mature so much both as a student and a person. I am thankful for how well my school had dealt with the challenges which came with remote learning and a lesson learnt is that life is unexpected and will throw curveballs at you, you just have to try your best to overcome it and everything will eventually be fine. My advice for prospective international students is if you are given an amazing opportunity to study abroad, just go for it. There will be obstacles but that is what makes you become a resilient person. Coming into a foreign country is scary but you will soon learn how to adapt to living here, good luck.", said Pingping.

Pingping was so used to face-to-face learning that she initially found herself distracted and unmotivated during the remote learning period. She soon adapted quickly with a positive outlook and attitude and achieved her desired result.

"To overcome this, I would tell myself that it is my last year of high school after all, if I'm not motivated then I'm not going to perform my best and will end up being disappointed when I don't get the desired results or get into the course that I've aimed for. Even more, all the year 12's will get their well-deserved 3 months (or longer) break at the end of the year so work smart and you will get to relax soon enough. Positive and encouraging self-talk has helped me most of the time to overcome laziness or loss of motivation and it pushes me to move forward and strive for the best.", said Pingping.

Pingping has accepted a Monash Scholars Program offer in Nursing at Monash University.

Thuy Minh Phuong Sarisha Nguyen - Keilor Downs College

City, country of originInterests
VCE subjectsATAR
Ba Ria Vung Tau city, VietnamMedicine
English as an Additional Language (EAL), Maths Methods, Biology, Chemistry, Music and Vietnamese


"I am so grateful that I have been part of Keilor Downs College community for three years. The teachers and staff here are amazing that they are willing to help you with all aspects. Being an international student here is my pleasure. Keilor Downs College is always part of my unforgettable memories and also a friendly and lovely environment. ", Sarisha wrote in her 2020 school yearbook.

Keilor Downs College was forced to shut down several times due to COVID-19, which had created more interruptions for Sarisha's study. Sarisha also moved house a few times in 2020 as she had to travel two hours on public transport to get to school until she was placed somewhere closer. Sarisha faced many challenges during the remote learning period such as having a broken laptop, unstable internet connection, studied Music without an instrument, helped her sister in Year 8 with her studies and naturally, staying at home for too long was affecting her mental health. With the great support and care from her school and International Student Coordinator, she had overcome these challenges and difficulties.

"The school has supported me a lot, they allowed me to take a break when I could not finish my work in the deadline due to my difficulties. All the staff from the teacher to the principal checked on me many times to make sure if I was okay or not. They even allowed me to use the school laptop and piano for the whole semester.", said Sarisha.

Sarisha has accepted an offer to study a Bachelor of Nursing at Swinburne University and received a 30% scholarship. 

Dat (Ben) Thanh Nguyen – Templestowe College 

City, country of originInterestsVCE subjectsATAR
Bind Duong, Vietnam
English,  Chemistry, Psychology, Further Maths, Math Method and Biology


"I owe my success to the wonderful teachers at Templestowe College. Different to any education I received prior to studying in Australia, the teachers I had while doing my VCE were incredibly supportive and dedicated. My teachers went above and beyond the textbook content which had taught and helped me to expand my understanding and advance my grasp of the knowledge.", Dat (Ben) Thanh Nguyen said.

The final year of remote learning was difficult for Ben, however, his teachers were able to provide him with all the support he needed especially when they knew he was struggling and didn't have the courage to ask for help. He truly believes the supportive and encouraging environment created by the staff and his friends enabled him to strive and achieve his goal.

Peter Ellis, Templestowe College's Principal, said: "Ben has been a pleasure to have at TC since his arrival in 2017.  Making friends with both international and local students. He has taken advantage of TC's flexible learning and been able to complete his VCE early with impressive results. Ben is an active member of the school community taking part in Ration Challenge, Employability Skills Program, Peer Support Program, and a Leadership and Global Citizenship interschool activity. Ben is now also supporting students by tutoring them in Psychology and Biology. We wish Ben all the best at University of Melbourne"

Ben has accepted an offer to study a Bachelor of Biomedicine at the University of Melbourne.

Xinyue (Candace) Jiang – Heathmont College

City, country of originInterestsVCE subjectsATAR
City of Sanmenxia, Henan Province, China
Solving Rubik's cubes, gaming, computing, volunteering, music production and sports

English as an Additional Language (EAL), Chemistry, Physics, Mathematical Methods, Specialist Mathematics and Chinese as Second Language Advanced


Candace Success story.jpg

Xinyue (Candace) Jiang was one of the first students to join Heathmont College's International Student Program at the age of 13. Her hard work and persistence have been inspiring. She has been a very positive role model throughout her entire journey at school. 

"Stay organised and keep things in perspective. Do not be complacent, keep learning and be intellectually humble.", Candace said to prospective Year 12 students.

"2020 has not been an easy year for me and it changed me a lot. I may not always say it, but I sincerely appreciate all my teachers that encouraged and helped me through this difficult time. Thanks to their efforts and everything they have taught me.", Candace said.

Candace's long-term goal is to work as a software engineer or an aerospace engineer. She is planning to study a master's degree in England or Singapore after finishing her bachelor's degree and is considering doing a doctorate degree in China. 

Candace has accepted an offer to study a double degree of Engineering and Advanced Computing at the Australian National University with a $25,000 Chancellor's International Scholarship. 

Last Update: 18/03/2021 2:31 PM