Privileged to help
"Why am I privileged and proud to be a Panellist within this group? I love reading about (and discussing) the opinions of young people, it helps keep my mind fresh and my perspectives from stultifying. These youngsters are the future leaders, and the hope of our society. If I can help them along their pathway to whatever it is they want to achieve, I am privileged to do so.
I feel it is important that the young people have an avenue in which they can express themselves to each other and the wider world (you can't get any wider than the internet) and also are encouraged and mentored in a way that helps them fly without having their wings trimmed too much.
I love seeing talented people get awards/rewards and recognition for something they do well. I am happy to be involved in something like this Basil Sellers Young Writers' Award because it is an intellectual achievement that is not centred around the more usual awards for sport or music.
I share Well-Being Australia's Dr Mark Tronson's name - by choice in my case - I have been married to his older brother for 43 years. Over the years, I have edited Mark's articles and books from time to time for grammar, spelling, mis-used words and general fact-checking (!!!! - a research job, suitable for my science training).
At some point, Mark made me an offer he knew I couldn't refuse (he knows me well by now) and that was to be a Panellist in this program.
Experience with young people
I have raised 3 amazing kids to adulthood (now aged between 32-39); they are all professionals, starting to show leadership in their own fields. Each has a science degree and further degrees, but they are not now all scientists. I also have a daughter-in-law (I prefer the French, Belle Fille) who is a school teacher and hails from Canada, and now I also have a new grand-daughter.
Apart from my husband, these 4 are my very bestest of best friends and I discuss all manner of things with them and read their blogs and those of their friends.
I taught science students in universities for more than 20 years before I retired. Although I specialised in first year classes 'for those who hated chemistry' (ie it was mandatory for their other courses), I also supervised and mentored students in senior classes, and a few postgraduate students - both for their research and as my Teaching Assistants for the aforementioned large first-year classes.
I also instigated a couple of awards for post-graduate student speakers at professional conferences that I was involved with. During my long working life, I organised many, many different science activities for high school students within the Uni labs and helped mentor teachers; and I have been involved with the NSW year 12 science curriculum in the examination process and in writing part of a text book.
In my retirement, I have joined the voluntary Scientists in Schools scheme funded by the Federal Government. This follows on from similar work I did when my kids were at Primary School in the 1980s. I work exclusively with teachers and kids in the local Primary School; I love doing science with littlies, aged 5-11. They tell you really what they think, not what they think you want them to think. (A bit like the Young Writers in Mark's program).
For the last 5 years, we have been hosting young backpackers from overseas under the Help Exchange scheme. (The world now comes to us, we no longer need to travel). They help us on the farm, and we provide a family atmosphere with food and board, the occasional sightseeing picnic, and most importantly, round-table discussions in English.
We have gained a much better perspective of life and culture in other countries by sitting and talking to these young people, than we ever would by doing more travelling and looking out the car or train window at the 'locals'.
Personal and professional background
I am a chemist/biochemist who has had several different careers, all involving either teaching or research in science in the tertiary education sector, most of them part-time.
I also have a passion for writing and reading that I have had since I wrote my first 'book' at the age of five. In these endeavours, I was mentored by one of my brilliant and enigmatic Uncles. As I did more science, it was natural for me become interested in science communication - mainly in how badly it was sometimes done and how could be done better. During my university teaching career, I brought these interests together and added pedagogical research to my CV. As judged by those in the science education community in Australia, New Zealand and further abroad, I succeeded quite well at both practical teaching and academic study of teaching strategies.
My husband is a mathematician/physics person who has made his career in business, retired early, and we have been living on our dream of a hobby farm since 1980 in what I describe as the Centre of the Universe (equally inconvenient to get anywhere, in any direction). Our main focus is growing Gondwanan flowers for the cut flower market - mostly proteas and banksias.
I relish the mixture of outdoor physical activity and being able to keep my intellect stimulated via the magic of little electrons buzzing down cables, which enables me to come in contact with all these amazing young people in Mark's Young Writers Program, to help them and Mark and to keep me young-in-mind. As far as I am concerned, it is a win-win-win situation."
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html