Gladstone teen in high demand as universities beckon
GROWING up in Sri Lanka, Nethmini Alahakoon didn't have much technology at her fingertips.
The 18-year-old former Toolooa State High School student remembers never having used the internet as a child, but being fascinated by the machines her father worked with.
"We had a TV at the house but no iPods or anything like that," she said.
"I remember being very excited going to my Dad's work and playing a game on his big box computer.
"After (my family) moved to Australia... I got really interested in technology and how these devices worked."
Last year Ms Alakahoon was elected vice-captain of Toolooa State High School, in no small part due to her extensive involvement with school groups and youth organisations, including the Interact Club, the Gladstone Regional Youth Council, and GCYD (Gladstone Youth for Cultural Diversity).
She also volunteered for Amnesty International, becoming involved with events such as Helping Hands and the 40 Hour Famine.
During her time at school, she served as the QMEA Student Ambassador and UQ Science Ambassador.
Ms Alahakoon was last month nominated for the LGIAsuper Community Volunteer Award, part of the Queensland Young Achiever Awards.
The award aims to recognise "community volunteers who, through exceptional leadership and support... demonstrate innovative ways to achieve excellence beyond what is expected of them".
Ms Alahakoon was nominated by her former teacher, Natalie Jounquay, and said it was "really exciting and a bit surprising as well" to be nominated.
"Despite being a victim of bullying and ostracism, I came out on top and I did not let anyone force me to stray from... serving the community," she said.
"I don't talk too much about everything I do... it was nice to actually be recognised."
Ms Alahakoon is now faced with a tough decision.
She has been offered places at both QUT and the University of New South Wales to study double degrees in engineering and IT-related fields.
"I've sort of conditionally accepted both the courses so far just to keep my options open," she said.
While QUT has sweetened the deal by offering her a scholarship, she said she was "still not sure which to choose".