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Study the best medicine

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Learning is high on the agenda for Claremont teenager Harry Nicholas, who aspires to one day go to university.

Harry, 16, who this year studied six Year 11 subjects, still manages to fit community work into his busy routine, and is the Sensory Youth Advisory Council chairperson, which advocates for young people with sensory impairment.

“We have just recently completed a project for the Commissioner for Children and Young People,” Harry said.

“We investigated the way youth with a sensory impairment interact with social media. To do this, we constructed a digital survey and sent it out to youth across Western Australia.”

Council members presented their findings to the Commissioner on Friday, 20 November 2015. 

“From the data we gained we wrote a report and constructed a mural which conveyed the different emotions felt by youth with a sensory impairment while using social media,” he said.

Harry’s vision impairment, as the result of albinism, hasn’t held him back at Christ Church Grammar School, and he also enjoys cycling, kayaking and cross country running.

Albinism means Harry has no pigment in his skin and 10 per cent vision.

“I have to slip, slop, and slap, a lot,” Harry said, referring to the Cancer Council Australia message. “Me and the sun don’t get along too well.”

While Harry’s vision impairment will prevent him from driving, he isn’t concerned:

“I have plenty of friends lined up who are willing to be my chauffers,” he said.

Harry said he counters his vision impairment by being very organised – “I have to be, I have to know where everything is,” he said.

He remembers people by their voices, because he can’t see their faces very well, and in class he sits close to the board.

Harry also enjoys Physical Education (PE) classes, even though hand-eye coordination isn’t among his strengths.

“I’m probably not the most valuable team member but I still do PE classes and everyone is really accommodating,” he said.

Harry wants to study at university when he leaves school and is considering pursuing medicine.

Earlier this year he visited Cambridge University, in England. Harry stayed at Queen’s college and attended small tutorials that emulated what studying at Cambridge could be like.

“I met lots of great people and had an amazing time in this new place,” he said. “I may apply to study there one day, but at my age I’m not really sure.

Once university is behind him, Harry wants to develop a career and offer his potential employer the same level of professionalism as anyone else.