Asala's a winner in any language

WHEN Asala Nanayakkara moved to Australia from Sri Lanka in 2008 she never dreamed she would be her school’s top VCE achiever. 

But that’s what happened when VCE results were released at 7am yesterday — the 17-year-old topping her Brauer College class with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of 94.6. 

With English as her second language, Asala took on a mammoth workload of seven Year 12 subjects over two years.

She studied English, further maths, accounting, legal studies and global politics this year, while taking on business management and Sinhala, a Sri Lankan language, in Year 11. 

After moving to Australia, Asala and her family first lived in Melbourne before arriving in Warrnambool in 2010. She said it was challenging at times trying to study with English as her second language, but her teachers had helped her through. 

She said she was “stoked” to learn she had topped the class at Brauer. 

“I had been awake since 6am waiting for the message to come through at 7am,” Asala said. 

“I was so happy when it finally came through, Mum and Dad were so excited, I actually think they were more excited than I was.” 

Her studies in Sinhala earnt her top marks and an achievement award from Education Minister Martin Dixon. Because the subject wasn’t regularly taught in schools she enrolled with the Victorian School of Languages to complete the subject, which meant travelling to Melbourne each Saturday morning.

“Classes started at 9am, so we were leaving home at 5am,” she said.

“It was a challenge, It’s a lot easier to speak a language than study it. I knew a little bit of Sinhala, but I had to learn the traditional way of speaking.” 

She said it was a huge relief that her ATAR score was high enough to get into her chosen course.

“I want to do law at Monash next year, so now it’s just a nervous wait until university offers come out in January.” 

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