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Reaching for the stars

Everyone would like to see their child reach for the stars, but for Luke Mitchell’s parents, that dream may one day grow into a reality.

Student Luke Mitchell

The Year 11 student has set an incredibly challenging career goal for himself and is channelling his energies towards something few have ever achieved – becoming an astronaut. This aspiration is more than merely a boyhood fantasy for the determined academic, and Luke has a very clear and specific idea about his future profession.

“The pursuit of space travel is one of the most inspiring ideas to conceptualise and conceive being a part of, especially given the advancements of technology in forthcoming years,” he explains. “It is my firm hope and belief that such endeavours can provide humanity with not only technological and scientific progress but a moral revelation that enables us to unify our intentions to a greater societal good.”

Joining ACG Strathallan in 2016 as a member of the Year 7 cohort, Luke has spent the past five years honing his craft. In 2019 his hard work and commitment were rewarded tenfold when, as a Year 10 student, he received two A* grades (90% and above) in IGCSE mathematics and combined science. Plus, an A grade (with a score of 88%) in AS-Level history. These results build upon his previous 2018 success, where he earned an A* grade in IGCSE history while still in Year 9.

“It was the most difficult endeavour of my academic life in school to date,” says the sixteen-year-old wunderkind. “It was one I was privileged to undertake with the invaluable aid of many fantastic teachers, friends and with the full endorsement and support from my family.”

And though Luke believes the advantage he had gained from his previous experience with Cambridge exams “was beyond measure in terms of how well it prepared me to continue in them”, he is acutely aware of the demands that still lay before him.

Becoming an astronaut will require Luke to be the best of the best, across a vast range of fields. However, as one of the school’s top scholars, he feels that Strathallan is preparing him well for the journey ahead and is grateful for the ongoing support and guidance of his teachers.

“The school possesses passionate and dedicated teachers able to educate in their chosen specialities and offers students a plethora of access to resources, external career advice and university preparation, alongside substantially reduced class sizes.

“I must particularly acknowledge my history teacher, Mr Neil Baxter, who’s phenomenal mentoring over the past two years enabled me to undertake my IGCSE and subsequent AS-Level exams. Given I sat the IGCSE history course in only two periods a week instead of the usual four, Mr Baxter tirelessly offered me after-school tutorial lessons every week. This assistance ensured I had a firm grasp of the material and allowed me to continue the subject to AS-Level the following year. In Mr Baxter’s inspiring example, I can find a truly essential part of my successes over the past two years.”

Especially drawn to physics, astronomy and astrophysics, Luke is fascinated by “the scientific marvels of nature surrounding and formulating the basis of human society”. And conversely, it was his interest analysing and understanding the patterns of human decision making and events which drove his decision to explore history to an AS level.

Additionally, Luke has been revelling in the opportunities his current Year 11 studies have provided.

“This year has offered me the chance to further my analytical skills in science and mathematics that I have long looked forward to. I have found this is especially the case in AS-Level mathematics, where I have continued to develop my breadth of mathematical understanding and problem-solving ability.”

Attributing his most significant achievements at ACG Strathallan to his success in overcoming all and any challenges and performing to the best of his capabilities, the future looks bright for the potential astronaut. And the limits of his success will surely be determined only by the limits of his imagination.