14 February 2023

Top marks and a global perspective take TRAC's Sarah Siddiqui towards a bright future

| Chris Roe
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TRAC graduate Sarah Siddiqui was ‘shocked’ when she achieved the highest possible ATAR of 99.95. Photo: Chris Roe.

Sarah Siddiqui is back in Wagga after a month-long post-graduation trip through Pakistan and some extraordinary success in her Year 12 results.

It was in the middle of a days-long wedding celebration that The Riverina Anglican College’s 2022 captain learned of her outstanding results in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP).

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“We visited family in Islamabad for my cousin’s wedding – my first Pakistani wedding ever and it was really big,” she laughs.

“There was a whole lot of very colourful outfits, dancing, singing; we did henna on our hands and there were a lot of different traditions and ceremonies and I kind of got my results in the middle of that!”

Pakistan wedding

Sarah was in the middle of a family wedding in Pakistan when she received her results. Photo: Supplied.

Riverina Anglican College is one of a growing number of Australian schools offering the IBDP, an internationally accredited education program that delivers a score out of 45.

Sarah achieved the highest possible score which translates to an ATAR of 99.95, a mark that only 48 students out of more than 55,000 in NSW achieved.

“I was like, kind of shocked and surprised and I just didn’t really know what was going on,” she says.

“But I was really, really happy and proud of myself as well because I put in a lot of work throughout the past few years.”

Sarah heads to Melbourne in a couple of weeks to begin studying medicine at Monash University.

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She says the IBDP gave her the chance to study a broad range of subjects with an international perspective.

“I think in Year 12 my favourite subject was probably global politics and I felt like it just made me really socially conscious and more aware of the world around me,” she says.

“It kind of forced me to look beyond my own circle and beyond just where I’ve lived my whole life and to look at different people, different cultures and the problems that they’re facing, and to build a sense of empathy towards them as well.”

TRAC principal Geoff Marsh says that’s exactly why the school offers the program to its senior students alongside the HSC.

“It’s that kind of thinking and teaching that is one of the reasons why the IBDP is such a good secondary qualification because it has a much more global outlook,” he says adding that the students “love it”.

“They’re at that age where they’re really keen to know more and it’s just not something that is taught as part of the HSC curriculum.”

Three people

TRAC principal Geoff Marsh, Sarah Siddiqui and the director of TRAC’s International Baccalaureate program Anthony Bosco. Photo: Chris Roe.

In 2022 the school had 92 students complete the HSC, seven students opt for a non-ATAR HSC pathway and 20 students complete the IBDP.

Anthony Bosco is the director of the school’s IB program and explains that senior students study six subjects and three core components that extend their thinking and provide a more holistic approach to education.

“It gives students a well-rounded diploma where they must study a foreign language, a science, maths, and they must do creativity and community service, sport and they must do English,” he says.

“It then means that you have a student graduating that’s prepared to go on to university to study, as Sarah is, medicine or childcare or law or media or whatever it might be.

“It gives them that strong foundation to leave school and go into the big wide world, which is so very overwhelming and rapidly changing, with the skills that they’ll need to make a positive change in the world in the future.”

Woman in coat

After a month of travel, Sarah is back in Wagga and preparing to study medicine in Melbourne. Photo: Supplied.

Another unique feature of the IBDP is the mandatory “creativity, activity and service” (CAS) component which requires students to complete 150 hours over the course of the 18-month diploma.

“I was worried about CAS and I thought it’d be really difficult, but it was actually really fun,” Sarah says.

“It pushed me to get involved in things that I probably wouldn’t have done and actually doing all those activities really developed my confidence, developed a lot of my skills and I think socially it was really good as well.”

While Sarah is excited about the move to Melbourne she has no set ideas on where medicine will take her.

“I don’t have any plans yet but I guess we’ll see. I’ve got five years to figure it out!”

Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.

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