Top PLC Sydney student goes to Oxford University

The green grass of Oxford is a long way from the green gates of PLC Sydney in Croydon, however, that is where Jennivine Chen landed in Term 3 this year. Finishing Year 12 at the College a little earlier than her fellow students, Jennivine was accepted into Oxford to study Computer Science and Philosophy the prestigious university in the United Kingdom and commenced her studies while her cohort was sitting their HSC exams.

Jennivine is an exceptional student, studying her Cambridge A level courses at the same time that she studied her HSC subjects at PLC Sydney. She was given support from the teachers here in her A Levels— Mr Gavin Sinclair, Ms Sarah Waller and Ms Lisa Tabuteau— which became essential when the lockdown was imposed earlier this year. Ms Tabuteau said “Against all odds and in many ways, all by herself, she not only got through her Cambridge course, but did incredibly well!”

Jennivine at Matriculation with fellow students, where they were formally admitted into Oxford University at the beginning of the term.

Jennivine’s mum, Ms Lisa Li, shared the exciting news with Dr Burgis in August when Jennivine’s A-level results were released and news of her offer came through. "I am writing to share wonderful news. Jennivine has received her A-level results and has met her conditional offer to start in Oxford University this October. When we received the results, the first thing I wanted to say is THANK YOU and thanks to the teachers who have been helping her to reach for this goal. Her subject teachers have been more than supportive and have all aided her tremendously in this process, especially this year due to COVID-19 and Cambridge exam cancellations.

Every teacher at PLC SYDNEY wanted her to do well from the bottom of their hearts, and I know for a fact that she has grown so much from the girl she came to PLC Sydney as. Before PLC Sydney, Jennivine had been to both a public and an international school in China, but the school environment here is uniquely unifying in its sense of community. I remember in Year 8 when she first came, occasionally I walked through the school and you would chat to us—and every other parent—each time with a personal greeting.

What also surprised me was the dedication of teachers who spend their after-school time to run extra-curricular activities and the wonderful teacher- student relationships here that build upon the curiosity and respect for knowledge.

In the time Jennivine has spent at PLC Sydney, she formed many valuable and unforgettable friendships that will be carried way beyond the school gates and I deeply believe that the girls will grow up to become young women of integrity and purpose. These examples are just to name a few, but from Speech Day 2019, I cannot agree more with the school's strategic vision and the push for T-shaped talents in students— it reflects your thoughtful insights on education.

In addition, PLC Sydney's encouragement for girls to pursue STEM subjects and hence creating an academically excellent environment has definitely influenced and shaped Jennivine during her study. It would be impossible to picture her as she is without the girls who came before, leading by example in the STEM field. They've inspired her to push the limits and have given her courage to embrace challenges. This year in particular has put that to the test, no matter how difficult, it has taught us to keep going forward and anticipate the unexpected along the way."

After settling in England, Jennivine reached out to Ms Tabuteau, Director of Cambridge International Courses at PLC Sydney, to update her on her commencement at Oxford and she has kindly shared this with us.

“Dear Ms Tabuteau,

I’m doing very well and apologies for not catching up sooner! Each term is only eight weeks and I’m now into my fifth week of the term, so everything has been going past very fast. The workload here is somewhat manageable. I get a 2000 word General Philosophy essay every fortnight, plus around three or four problem sheets every week—those are for the Probability (Maths), Discrete Maths (Computer Science), Functional Programming (Computer Science), and the Introduction to Logic (Philosophy) courses I’m taking this term.

Usually I try to get up before 8.00 am and go on a walk/run to see the cows at Christ Church Meadows. A few days ago I walked past the TS Eliot Theatre at Merton College and just had to take a photo :) The amazing collection of Yeats and Virginia Woolf in the Balliol Library also made it very tempting for me to re-read some of their works too.

Speaking of libraries, the university libraries are in very high demand due to the booking system put in place because of COVID. I’ve been in the Radcliffe Camera once, but couldn’t find a reading space that time I went. I was very lucky to have booked a spot in the Duke Humfrey’s Library for today, apparently it’s the oldest library in Oxford and they filmed Harry Potter there! I’m going to try and finish my essay there today (this week’s topic is on the rationality of inductive references and its implication to scientific enquiries) and make some good lecture notes so I can get started on the problem sheets before tomorrow.

Extracurricular-wise, I’ve joined the College's novice Rowing Club and a few other subject-related societies. Although because of the second lockdown, I’ve only been out on the water once :( I’ve also signed up for choir just in time leading up to the Christmas service so I’m very much looking forward to that. In addition, I’m doing some outreach work for the Computer Science Department as a student ambassador, and for the College to answer questions from incoming applicants in 2021, which means I’ll likely get paid during the Christmas holidays. A few days ago it was also the BUMS (Balliol Undergraduate Maths Society) election, and I got a role on the committee as a social sec along with another person— we’ll be in charge of organising all social events for the society this year.

All has been good, although slightly busy :)”

We wish Jennivine all the best for her studies at Oxford and look forward to welcoming her back to Croydon one day.