Lara Hilton, 16, is still in college, but will be more than ready for university when the time rolls around.
She is a student at Hobart College but also studies Indonesian in the UTAS School of Asian Languages and Studies.
Lara is in the UTAS High Achievers Program, which provides high-achieving Tasmanian senior secondary school students with the opportunity to enrol in University units to complement and extend their studies.
Lara is doing so well with her Asian Languages studies that she recently came second in a national Indonesian speech contest.
She was awarded $300 and a trip to Yogyakarta for two weeks.
"For the first 'stage' we had to record a speech on Indonesian tourism," she said.
"For the grand final we had to present a speech we wrote. I answered the question: 'As an Australian student, what makes it interesting to learn foreign languages? And in your opinion, what makes Australian students interested in learning Indonesian language at school?'"
"I felt very honoured to win," Lara said.
She also met Professor David Hill, and the Consulate General of Indonesia.
Prof Hill is a Professor of Southeast Asian Studies and fellow of the Asia Research Centre for Social, Political and Economic Change at Murdoch University in Perth. He is also the Director of the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS).
Lara has been mastering the Indonesian language for 10 years - not bad for someone who is only 16 years of age.
Indonesian was a natural choice for her.
"My mother lived in Indonesia for two years - my grandfather was a civil engineer in Indonesia," she said.
Lara has visited Indonesia twice.
"I think it's important to study Indonesian, since Indonesia is our closest neighbour.
"The Indonesian community - the teachers and the students of the language - in Australia is so beautiful. It's very close knit and coming from a small school, I really value that. Everyone knows each other! And they are very supportive of each other."
Lara has also been studying French for two years. She said languages come easily to her and she would like to be a language teacher one day, working overseas.
Published on: 30 May 2012 3:56pm