Alyssa Fernandez’s commitment to school, the arts and social justice has landed her a 2015 Young Citizen of the Year award.
The Domremy College Five Dock Year 11 student was presented with the award by Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas at the council’s Australia Day citizenship ceremony held at Cabarita Park on January 26.
“It’s exciting and very unexpected but I am very grateful,” Alyssa, 15, said.
Alyssa has a strong interest in social justice, and is an advocate for refugees and asylum seekers and for gender equality.
“I think education is the most important thing – that everyone knows about everyone else’s problems and the things they go through, that there’s understanding across all genders and ages,” she said. “I think that the best way everyone can be equal and live together peacefully.”
Alyssa currently studies Extension Mathematics, Advanced English, Music, Religion, Physics, and Chemistry. She attended the Australian National Maritime Museum’s Women in Science Symposium last year, where she heard women from disciplines including marine biology and microbiology talk about their careers in the field.
“It was very inspiring to hear their stories and one of the things that helped push me into the path of science as a career,” Alyssa said.
Alyssa is an avid reader and gives her time to this, violin and ballet outside of school. She has played violin for the past 10 years and is a member of her school orchestra, sting ensemble and choir. She will next perform at the College’s open day on March 13.
Keeping busier still, Alyssa is a member of Domremy’s Student Representative Council, a member of the St Ambrose parish, a catechist leader, and organises the College’s critical thinking club.
“It was started by some Year 12 students last year and they passed the role on to me when they graduated,” she said. “It’s basically a group where we meet up every week or two weeks to talk about things that are going on in the world. We’ve discussed gun laws, terrorist attacks and society’s view of them, climate change and other topics.
“I feel like the younger students have me as a role model a bit now and I have to give a good impression to them.
“I think being involved in a wide range of things opens you up to a lot of different opportunities and possibilities.
“Being involved in the social justice committee I’ve been able to go to a lot of great days where I’ve heard a range of speakers. Being involved in the music groups I’ve had so many opportunities to perform in a lot of places and meet people. It’s really good to have those connections or experiences.”
Domremy College Principal, Vivienne Awad said the school community was very proud of Alyssa, who had already achieved the College’s highest level of recognition – the principal’s Lantern Award.
“Alyssa is a great ambassador for our school and we are delighted that she was the recipient of this award,” Ms Awad said. “We can look forward to bigger and better things in the future for Alyssa as she continues to lead by example.”