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Reaching for the stars

The sky’s the limit for top scholar Aum Mehta. After receiving a remarkable four A* grades in A-Level Cambridge exams over the past two years, the recent graduate and keen basketball player has just embarked on a double degree at the University of Sydney with the ultimate aim of joining NASA’s space programme.
Recent ACG Parnell College graduate Aum Mehta

Pushing the boundaries of human travel and working at the forefront of the space sector would be a dream come true for ACG Parnell College alumnus Aum Mehta. And now, after enjoying phenomenal success in his 2021 Cambridge curriculum exams and being accepted into a top overseas university, he’s a giant step closer to the golden doors of NASA.

Aum, you achieved four A* grades (90% and over) for A-Level computer science, physics, economics and mathematics. How thrilled were you?
I was over the moon as I had achieved the dream I’d set for myself when I first started at ACG in Year 7. And of course, I was incredibly excited to share the results with my parents and peers.

Typically three or more A* grades are required to be accepted into top overseas universities. What was your university of choice?
I’ve just started at the University of Sydney to study a double degree with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering (Honours) specialising in Space. I was lucky enough to receive three scholarships to help support me through my studies. These include the Chancellor’s Award (valued at $10,000 per annum for the duration of the degree), the Dalyell Scholars stream (offering opportunities to extend academic abilities and develop leadership capabilities), and a St John’s College scholarship (from one of the student accommodation colleges). 

I’m so excited about being able to specialise in the topics I enjoy most and fully commit to my passions. While I’m here, I’m aiming to excel by continuing to get the best results and networking with mentors specialising in different industries.

How do you think ACG Parnell College has prepared you for the step-up to tertiary study?
ACG has made the transition very seamless as we spent our last few years slowly gaining more responsibility through being accountable for our own studies. I was able to test this out in the University of Auckland mathematics extension paper in 2021, where I earned an A+ grade.

What did you enjoy most about studying the Cambridge curriculum?
The flexibility of the curriculum allowed me to focus and specialise in the subjects I was most passionate about. These included maths, physics, economics and computer science, which all revolve around problem-solving.

Were there any challenges?
My biggest challenge was completing my A-Levels, with both years being significantly affected by COVID. It was a bit more challenging to grasp complicated concepts over the screen during the lockdown and to continue studying for final exams when we didn’t know if they’d be allowed to proceed with the ongoing restrictions. Fortunately, the school was able to set up safe ‘bubbles’ for us to sit the exams, which removed that concern.

You clearly rose to the challenge, though! What advice do you have for ACG students studying the Cambridge curriculum this year?
The first step is to listen to your teachers. ACG Parnell has some of the best teachers, and they’ll guide you every step of the way so you can achieve spectacular results. Don’t be afraid to email them, message them and generally bother them with questions and concerns! Then it’s up to you to put in the work by doing as many past papers as you can. You should also send practice essays to your teachers for feedback and tips.

Can you share some personal highlights from your time at ACG Parnell College?
Standing in front of my friends, family and teachers to receive academic excellence awards for mathematics, physics, economics, and computer science was a real thrill – it was great to get recognition for all my hard work.

Also, in my final year, I was Deputy Head Boy, which allowed me to lead the sports committee, mentor a primary class and manage the prefect budget. I particularly enjoyed helping organise the school’s first food stall, where we sold popsicles, chips and drinks and raised over $1000 for our prefect team to spend on community activities.

And finally, what are the most valuable lessons will you take away from ACG Parnell College?
ACG taught me the importance of being wholehearted and committing 100% to every task. It showed me that hard work will never be wasted, and I learned not only to be grateful for the opportunities I was given but also to make the most of them.

In 2021, over 20% of ACG Parnell College Year 13 students who studied the Cambridge International curriculum received three or more A* grades (90% or above). This achievement meets and, in some cases, exceeds the standard acceptance requirements of the top universities around the globe.