Gilroy Santa Maria student Lachlan Castles is well on his way to realising his investment banking dreams after receiving a prestigious Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship to study at Bond University on the Gold Coast.
The Ingham local with finance in his blood will follow in the footsteps of his financial advisor father and accountant mother when he begins his Bachelor of Laws and Commerce at Australia's first independent, not-for-profit university next year.
The 17-year-old has already accumulated a string of academic, leadership and community achievements, including being awarded Dux of Gilroy Santa Maria College and Dux of five of his seven subjects.
He showed strong leadership as school captain, identifying a problem between inter-year level interaction and implementing a 'vertical homeroom system', in which four or five students from each year level came together each morning in a classroom environment to improve relationships.
Lachlan pushed for the re-establishment of the School Representative Council (SRC), which involved two members from each year level to meet fortnightly to raise ongoing school issues with administrative staff.
He assisted in the construction of obstacles and volunteered for his school’s major sporting fundraiser event, the ‘Gilroy Gruelling Games’ which raised more than $8,000 for the school community.
Through fundraising efforts in his grade’s Relay for Life team and Leo’s Club, Lachlan helped raise over $1,200 for the Cancer Council and almost $1,700 for local and international charities respectively.
Lachlan said at the beginning of Year 12 he began a search for the right scholarship to help him reach his ambition of becoming an investment banker - and Bond University ticked all the boxes.
"When I got the call from the Vice-Chancellor of Bond to inform me I was successful, I felt like all of my hard work and sticking to my ethics had really paid off," he said.
"The next few years of my life are now accounted for, which has given me peace of mind. I feel really proud of my efforts.
"After completing a week of work experience at Macquarie Bank in Brisbane last year, I asked some of the people I was working with what degree they would recommend for my career aspirations and the majority said a Bachelor of Laws and Commerce. I did some research and discovered Bond as a university I was interested in; so here I am.
"I'm really looking forward to taking advantage of Bond's small class sizes and supportive atmosphere. There is so much on offer in terms of clubs and groups - I'm keen to get involved in as many aspects of university life as I can."
Lachlan said the move from a small town of just 5,000 people to the Bond campus on the Gold Coast early next year would be an exciting new chapter as he reached for his career goals.
"Living in a small town is great when you're a kid, but I believe there will be more opportunities for me on the Gold Coast," he said.
"Following my degree, I hope to land a job at Macquarie as I learnt so much from my work experience at the company.
"I would definitely recommend this scholarship to anyone who is thinking of applying. It's daunting when you hear all the amazing achievements of the people you are up against, but applying is the best decision I have ever made."
The Vice-Chancellor's Scholarships are Bond University's longest standing and most prestigious scholarships, with students chosen based on their outstanding academic achievement, exemplary leadership and dedicated community involvement.
Bond University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Tim Brailsford said the recipients of this year's scholarships were high achieving leaders in their communities, with extremely bright futures ahead of them.
"These scholarships recognise students who have not only shined in the classroom, but have gone above and beyond to demonstrate leadership in their schools and communities," he said.
"Our goal is to help foster their career ambition and community connection throughout their time at Bond, giving them hands-on, real-world experience in their desired field.
"We also offer a unique mentoring program for these outstanding scholars, connecting each of them with an influential corporate mentor who will further prepare them to step from university life to the workplace upon graduation.
"Lachlan embodies all the qualities we look for in a scholarship recipient and I have no doubt he will succeed at Bond and beyond. We look forward to welcoming him to campus in 2017."