MICHAEL MCPHAIL, CLASS OF 2010

Studying a Masters of Philosophy in Physics at UWA and shortly off to Oxford University 

Michael graduated from John Wollaston as Dux of the School in 2010 and commenced study at UWA concentrating on Chemistry and Physics which he had enjoyed at school. The first year at UWA students study general Science subjects; however, half way through his second year of study Michael realised that his interest was more in Mathematics so he swapped to Physics and Applied Mathematics.

This was a good move for Michael who went onto graduate from UWA with First Class Honours (Mathematics and Physics). Michael says his determination to achieve a strong academic record resulted in being awarded prizes in both Maths and Physics for obtaining the highest marks of his cohort.

“In 2014 I completed my honours year, receiving the maximum possible GPA of 7. Based on my achievements throughout my undergraduate degree I have been awarded the UWA’s most prestigious post graduate research scholarship — The Hackett Scholarship,” he said. A highlight of University was spending five weeks in Singapore studying biodiversity and Chinese during his winter break in 2013. This was undertaken at the National University of Singapore.


Michael found John Wollaston was very accommodating. While preparing for his final years of school a new Mathematics course was introduced into the curriculum, known as the specialist 3C/3D Maths course. Michael thought it was fantastic that John Wollaston undertook to begin this course even though in the first year there were only two students in Mr Mayes' class.

Things that have remained with Michael about John Wollaston are that everyone was treated equally. “Students weren’t pigeon-holed but allowed to follow their areas of interest. Students could make up their own minds and form their own identity,” he said.


“Sometimes if you are forced to do something you will not like it,” Michael said “You can lose interest in a subject you would otherwise enjoy if you feel like you are partly doing it because somebody else wants you to.”

"At John Wollaston you can make your own decisions and are given opportunities to discover your own talents.”


Michael says there is often pressure on bright students to follow certain pathways such as Medicine. “I am so glad this was not the case at John Wollaston, as it took me a little while to discover Mathematics was the path for me and it has been a much better fit,” he said. “I had to make a big choice to change course slightly, in my second year of University and I learnt these decision making skills at John Wollaston. In Primary School and during my schooling I could always do the Maths required but I never really thought of a Mathematics future. At John Wollaston you can make your own decisions and are given opportunities to discover your own talents.”

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