Due to Covid preventing her return home to Shanghai, Upper Sixth pupil, Lydia Yang (Wh), has been at the College continuously since the middle of last August. Despite the challenges of the year, Lydia has excelled academically winning the Upper Sixth prizes in Maths, Computer Science and Physics, the John Propert Prize for Academic Excellence, and was best in school winner at Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge.
Here we speak to Lydia about her exceptional year, and all that she has achieved.
Congratulations on winning the Upper Sixth academic prizes in Maths, Computer Science and Physics, and the John Propert Prize for Academic Excellence – how did you successfully balance all of your subjects?
I think the balance may be a little bit easier for me, as all my subjects are related to each other. For example, you can find mechanics both in Maths and Physics, and vectors in all three subjects. And also, they are all related to calculating and logical thinking, so when I am revising for one, I am kind of revising the others.
Which university do you hope to attend, and what will you study there?
My firm choice is Imperial College and insurance is St Andrews. Both for Computer Science.
Do you know what career you would like to pursue after your studies?
I think I will consider jobs that relate to programming, as I enjoy the practical part of Computing. Maybe a software engineer, or even more ideal, a game developer.
During lockdown you created your own computer game – tell us more about it.
Since the first day I chose Computer Science as my A-level subject, I planned to create my own game as my coursework element.
It was much harder than I had originally thought! As I built everything completely from scratch, I didn’t even know what to do as the first step. I slowly worked out how the development engine worked and accumulated more and more practical experience during the coding. This made me feel that knowing the theoretical part in Computer Science really did not mean that you could actually write the code.
Creating your own program is truly fun, as you can add anything you want. I drew my own characters and watched the world gradually being built up by codes. That’s amazing! I truly recommend that anyone who is interested in Computer Science should try to build their own projects, however small or easy these projects seem to be. The experience itself is incredible.
The game is a 2D rouge-like shooting game and I was inspired by the game Enter the Gungeon. Players can choose one of the three characters to start the game. Each game consists of three levels and each level contains 8-10 rooms and an end-of-level boss. A player’s goal is to defeat the final boss before the character dies, with the weapons and items in hand. The level map is randomly generated in each game so it brings replayability to the game.
How did you face the challenge of being away from home for so long due to Covid?
The best thing was that I still had a friend with me – Jenny – and I think we really supported each other during that time. I am the type of person who doesn’t need too much socialising and exercising, I enjoy being indoors with just one or two of my best friends, which was mainly the daily life during the long time away from home.
I really appreciate that Epsom College stayed open for only three (and gradually two…) students after Christmas. The catering team was incredible and really tried to make new meals for us every day. Also, I want to gratefully thank Miss Smith and Matron for their kindness and caring during the whole time, they are so amazing.