A letter to Year 12 students from the woman taking Indigenous astronomy into the future

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Kirsten Banks talks about walking through all the doors that open in life and recognising opportunities when they come along.

A letter to Year 12 students from the woman taking Indigenous astronomy into the future – Australia’s Science Channel

Kirsten Banks

Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri Woman and Astrophysicist with an undeniable passion for space and astronomy.

Sitting down at my desk to write this letter to you feels quite surreal to be honest. When I was in your position six years ago, I knew I wanted to be an astrophysicist. I knew I loved physics and I knew that nothing was going to stop me from doing what I wanted to do with my life. Having said that, I never knew I would be sitting here, having been asked to write this letter to you. I never knew that I would be sitting at my desk having just started one of the most prestigious PhD programs in Australia, and I certainly never knew that I would have had the chance to sit next to my idol on live national television.

There was one piece of advice that I was privileged enough to receive when I was just starting high school, which has stayed with me on my crazy journey to this day.

On my first day of year 7 at Davidson High School the principal at the time, Rod Cawsey, gave the usual commencement address to welcome all of the new students to the school. He spoke about how high school and life presents many opportunities and it is up to us to make sure we are recognising opportunities.

His words still resonate with me: “High school is like a long hallway of doors. All I, your teachers, and your parents ask of you is for you to go out there and walk through those doors. Try them all. Try everything”.

And me, being quite a literal person, took Mr. Cawsey very seriously and I tried EVERYTHING.

That is the advice I live by. By following this advice through my time at high school I was lucky enough to find my passion for space and astronomy in year 9/10. It is the advice that has scored me a TEDx talk, my own podcast, the opportunity to write this letter to you and who knows what else in the future!

It is also the advice I want to pass onto you today. I never could have imagined my life as it is today when I was in your position. Opportunities led me here. They say that a life-changing opportunity passes you by every two weeks, on average, you just need the eyes to see it.

Whether you know exactly what you want to do after you push through this final year, you have some idea, or absolutely no idea, go out there and seize the day.

Have the eyes and an open mind to recognising opportunities as they come your way because who knows where they could lead you. You might find your passion through an opportunity. You might discover your dream job through an opportunity. The possibilities are endless! This year may feel like the end, but it is just the beginning – trust me!

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You can find more letters from leading scientists for students here.