Hard work, persistence, and perseverance pays off. 

For Dilini Wijetunga, there has been no truer philosophy this year as the 18-year-old opened her ATAR results to reveal her score of 92.75.   

With an unwavering passion for music and a broad interest in aviation and engineering, the sky is the limit for the former Heany Park Primary School student.

“It (Year 12) was pretty tough,” Dilini said.

“There were times when I thought I wasn’t sure if it was going to pay off, but if you keep working you can trust that the worst that can happen isn’t too bad.

“I did spent quite a bit of time studying. I’d get home and it’d be usually at least an hour of each (subject).

“I don’t think you necessarily completely have to throw away everything and throw yourself in.

“I think taking a break when you need it is very important and often works better than working when you’re tired.”

Dilini’s passion in music saw her awarded the College’s coveted music scholarship this year.

She believes music provided her with a much-needed outlet among her other subjects.

“I’m so glad I was able to do music,” she said.

“It was nice to have that one subject where it didn’t feel like I was studying.

“If you have a passion and it’s a subject, go for it.

“I was still practicing piano at least two hours every day. Leading up to exams, it would be up to three hours a day.

“It was more of an outlet than anything else. When I needed a break, it was great to do something physical.”

Maths Methods, Physics and Literature were among Dilini’s other subjects in 2016.

“I was lucky that my teachers were really good and very understanding,” she said.

“They were all really supportive, and I’m pretty sure I annoyed them quite a bit just asking questions, stressing over this and that, (but) they’d always be so patient.”

Enrolled in the RIA program from Year 7, Dilini will miss performing in the biannual RIA Showcase event, and admits watching semester two’s show was a bit emotional.

She has also enjoyed watching the evolution of the RIA program.

“The music program and the RIA program have been amazing,” she said.

“I wasn’t part of the last Showcase but I came to watch and I thought I’m going to miss it so much.

“It’s like a family. I joined from year 7, but at that point (the program) wasn’t completely formed.

“It’s great to see how much it’s improved and developed.

“One of the most important people there would be (College Principal) Ms Kennedy, she really changed it for the better.”

A diverse range of interests, from music to aviation, all with limitless potential has Dilini excited for 2017, in what promises to be another busy year for the 18-year-old.

“I reckon I’m going to be pretty busy next year,” she said.

“What I put down at the top of my university preferences was Engineering and Arts as a double degree at Monash University.

“I’m hoping to specialise in aerospace engineering, and what I also did this year as a VET subject was aviation, so I’ve got my private pilot licence.

“I’m hoping to pursue that as a career – maybe an aviation engineer, but we’ll see where it takes me.

“On the other hand, I love music quite a bit. That’s definitely not something I want to let go of – I see potential for a career on that path as well.

“I want to make sure I’m as prepared as possible.”

Looking back in five, 10, 20 years and beyond, Dilini says her time at Rowville Secondary College will always resonate positively.

“(It was) definitely a positive experience, I’m very glad I actually came here, I think it allowed me to develop a lot, not only as a student but as a person as well with all the different people you meet here,” she said.

“It’s really great that we have the Sports Academy, Arts, Maths & Science Academy and General Excellence because you get exposed to a lot more people.

“As a kid, I was pretty shy and awkward, so coming to Rowville actually really helped me in that sense – I have a lot more confidence.”

On the home front, Dilini couldn’t be more thankful for the support of her parents.

“As much as they’ve supported me, they’ve never pushed me too much,” she said.

“It was always ‘we’ll help you as much as you want us to help you’, and ‘you tell us what your goals are and we’ll help you in terms of that’ – it was great, they never overdid it.”

Working hard, perseverance and persistence is the advice Dilini would give to future Year 12 students.

“Do subjects that you love, doesn’t matter if they’re marked up or marked down, or even if you feel like you’re not quite as good as you think you are,” she said.

“There’s a sort of assumption in a few other schools I’ve noticed, talking to other people who did music, that if you play piano, you have to be at a certain level.

“I wasn’t at that specific level that was mentioned. But working hard, I managed to get a very good score that I was happy with.

“Don’t worry about how you feel you’re supposed to be, keep working, and take a break when you need it.”