Science whiz sees future in medicine

For Rachelle Grozde, meeting the wife of the late Dr Victor Chang was like meeting royalty.

The Albion Park High School student would love to follow in the footsteps of the world-renowned heart surgeon.

That's what made winning a Victor Chang School Science Award yesterday so special.

"It's a great privilege. I was completely taken by surprise. I didn't even know the award existed," Rachelle said.

"It is great because I'm looking at a career in the field of science or medicine. This is a great encouragement, particularly for girls undertaking those careers."

On Tuesday she will get the chance to "check out the facilities" at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney.

"I'm so excited about that, it will be amazing."

The 17-year-old, who also excels at sport, is torn about her future.

"I like the idea of being able to help people directly, like in medicine, but I'm also fascinated with doing medical research in a laboratory."

Rachelle surely won't be short of options, after topping her class this year in chemistry, physics and placing second in biology.

She was one of 39 year 11 students from schools in the Illawarra and South-East region to receive the award yesterday for outstanding achievement in scientific studies.

Ann Chang was a special guest at the presentation at the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus.

The award aims to encourage more students to study science in years 11 and 12 and to consider a career in science once they leave school.

Dr Emily Hodkinson, research scientist at the institute, said the students received the award for the "commitment and passion they have shown for discovery".

"We want to encourage them to develop that passion and turn it into a rewarding scientific career," she said.

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