By Gavrilo Sipka, University of Queensland

It’s quite interesting to think the journey life can take us, when I entered high school I was a young youth filled with hope and dreams. Looking back for the simple knowledge I had in them I idealised mathematics and physics hoping one day to study either of those at university. But as with all first acts in a story there would turn out to be some challenges toward that dream. My final two years of high school saw my grades began to drastically fall. In hindsight I take full responsibility for the events that occurred. I became disinterested, distracted and quite lazy over those two years, leading me to believe that I was no longer capable of even studying at university. So what was a youth to do?

After graduating and seeing the sub-par results I obtain compared to the standards I once set for myself, I decided to take a gap year and recuperate my energy. I was fortunate enough to just scrap into an arts degree at my university. So when I finally started as with many people I had this daunting feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to “make it”, in the year I spent away from study I had found a revitalisation of the importance of self-agency and self-responsibility. The goal was to put my head to the books and transfer towards a physics degree at the time. Well I ended up doing the former but the later never came to fruition, in that first year although in hindsight it was quite basic I was able to experience proper mathematics for the first time in my life. Things were never as clear as they had been at that point, I realised that the only thing my heart wanted from there on was to study pure mathematics.

It’s quite fascinating to see how such basic abstract concepts and notions developed long ago through the might of human ingenuity were able to evolve into such complex fields and topics. Through my studies I have been able to learn about things such as abstract algebra, representation theory, analytics number theory, analysis and many more topics. So in hindsight “what was I worried about to begin with?”.


Gavrilo Sipka was a recipient of a 2018/19 AMSI Vacation Research Scholarship.

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