Prairiewood High School student Michelle Ung has praised her teachers for helping her reach "unexpected" success in last year's Higher School Certificate. The 17-year-old finished equal first in English advanced in NSW.
"They would give pep talks and helped me through the content which wasn't always easy when we were in lockdown and my internet connection wasn't always stable," she said.
"Thanks to my teachers for guiding me through online learning I was able to get motived and focused and succeed in my HSC."
The Fairfield West resident was one of five Fairfield students who obtained first place in a 2021 HSC course which were announced at a ceremony on Wednesday.
Fairvale High School student Daania Alameddine (Community and Family Studies) and Bonnyrigg High School student Melissa Ly Tiev (Chinese Beginners) topped their respective subjects.
Patrician Brothers' College, Fairfield student Brent Macaraeg (Italian Beginners) and Bossley Park High School student Andjela Nikolic (Business Services Examination) also came first in their courses.
Michelle said she was "ecstatic" when she received the news from Education Minister Sarah Mitchell on Sunday.
"It came up as an unknown number so I was expecting a scam call so it came as a shock," said Michelle, who also came also came third in state in extension one English with a perfect score of 50/50.
"I'm proud of myself for overcoming difficult challenges and staying motivated."
After obtaining an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) of 99.7 she plans to study a bachelor of law/commerce at the University of New South Wales.
Prairiewood High School achieved its best ever rank of 80th with 10 students achieving an ATAR of more than 99.
Principal Belinda Giudice said: "We are incredibly proud of Michelle and the entire 2021 cohort. Students' in Fairfield LGA have displayed incredible resilience, persistence and commitment to their study."
Ms Mitchell said combined with their abilities and skills, first in course recipients have shown what can be achieved when there is a "real commitment to learning".
"A quality which will hold them in good stead for the future," she said.
"The future looks so bright for the inspiring young people who we will celebrate today, and for all HSC students who showed great perseverance and resilience in their final years of school.
"I am sure the Class of 2021 are already looking to the future and are ready to take on work, training and further studies.
"As always, my thanks goes to the experienced and dedicated NSW teachers who, along with family and friends, have supported and encouraged these young people to achieve at the top of their class."
Premier Dominic Perrottet said to top the state in an HSC course is an "incredible achievement".
"You should be very proud of your efforts," he said.
About 76,000 HSC students who sat at least one exam in 2021 received their HSC results by SMS, email and on Thursday morning.
"To see students come out of the HSC with the results they worked so hard for is fantastic. I also want to remind students that if you didn't receive the results you wanted, there are still countless pathways available to help you achieve your goals," Ms Mitchell said.
"In particular, thank you to our dedicated and resourceful teachers who kept HSC students learning, motivated and engaged throughout the lockdown period.
"I know these results are just as meaningful to those who supported our students as they are to the young people who have achieved them."
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