Being recognised as a Top in the World student in the Cambridge Outstanding Learner Awards is an amazing accomplishment. However, this incredible result is even more impressive for ACG Sunderland's Cedric Siriwardana because it's the second time he has received this phenomenal accolade.
Not only did the strongly motivated teen collect the 2020 Top in World IGCSE Combined Science Award (as a Year 10 student), but his talent, hard work and dedication also brought him the title of 2021 Top in World for IGCSE Design & Technology.
"I am proud of myself to have achieved two Top in the World's two years in a row," says Cedric. "It's difficult to comprehend being part of only a handful of students across the world to have achieved the highest result out of thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, who sat the same exam. So, to have done this twice is genuinely unbelievable."
His latest triumph came as quite a surprise. And although he enjoyed the subject of design and technology a great deal, Cedric admits he did find it a little challenging and stressful at times.
"Of all my exams last year, I never anticipated achieving such a high result in design – I'm still very excited and rather shocked by it! This award is incredibly significant to me. I put a lot of time and effort into the subject last year, and to have such an incredible outcome is very gratifying.
"A big part of my success comes down to my design and form class teacher Mrs Townshend. She has supported me since my first day at Sunderland, has helped build my confidence, and pushed me to be my best self. I couldn't have achieved this award without her help, guidance, and expertise. In fact, I'm incredibly thankful to all my teachers."
Cedric's top-tier result was achieved with help from a packaging box he designed and produced for an Oppo Find X2 Pro and Ferrari S.p.A collaboration.
"Oppo was the obvious choice for me as, at the time, I'd noticed they were doing a lot of limited-edition collaboration models for their existing smartphone lineup. I was particularly intrigued by the product they released with Lamborghini S.p.A, for which the packaging was quite exquisite and really well thought out."
It was a demanding project to take on but rewarding too.
"I enjoyed following the design process and learning and developing new skills such as working with CAD software and doing technical drawings. In addition, there's an indescribable satisfaction in watching a mere idea materialise into a completed final project."
And although he is not studying design and technology in 2022 (he's focusing on maths, physics, chemistry and English instead), Cedric is looking forward to another productive year immersed in the Cambridge curriculum.
"I admire the wide array of subjects Cambridge has to offer. It allows students to find and select a path they show genuine interest in. I enjoy the structured learning paths and the deepened understanding I develop each year. In saying that, it takes a massive amount of work to achieve a solid grasp on all the content."
That's why striving for a healthy work-life balance is of utmost importance.
"I'm excited to see what school and House events will be able to take place this year. And although I'll be striving to work harder and accomplish more academically in 2022, I want to put greater emphasis on pursuing areas of interest and trying to be more involved at home and in school."
These efforts will no doubt lay solid foundations for tertiary study and beyond, although at this point, Cedric is unsure exactly what that might entail.
"With my interest in physics, I think I might enjoy a career in engineering, perhaps in electrical or aerospace. But with a recent interest in programming, I might also consider self-studying computer science and pursuing a role in data science, machine learning, or full-stack web development. I want to open up as many opportunities as possible for different careers in STEM."
For now, though, he'll be focusing his efforts on making the most of Year 12 – and possibly even securing his third Top in the World accolade. For those keen to follow in his footsteps, Cedric has this advice:
- Find a study method that works well for you and stick to it.
- Try and develop the fullest possible understanding of what you've been taught by being attentive in class, completing all your work and undertaking your own self-study.
- To do your best, you need to work hard - consistently.
- Don't hold impossibly high standards. Ultimately you want to be able to appreciate and enjoy your results.