Luke Dowell at Coota High late last month. Photo: Christopher Tan.

Cootamundra High School school captain and Year 12 student Luke Dowell will soon be completing work experience in cyber security with the Australian Defence Force in Canberra.

It’s an impressive achievement for Luke who was up amongst over 90 applicants and he was just one out of 12 that made the final cut.

Student Dowell is also the first from his school and the area to be accepted into such a prestigious program.

This is all exciting for Luke, having shown an interest in cyber security since Year 8 and enjoys computer and software development, as well as coding.

“I didn’t really believe it at first [getting accepted]. My mum is really proud of me and supports me in everything I do, and my friends too are stoked at the news too,” he said.

Cootamundra High School Careers Advisor Catherine Alderman said Luke’s acceptance into the program is a testament to his hardworking nature and initiative.

“Luke was actually the one that approached me about a work experience opportunity that opened up at ADF and asked me what I thought about it,” Mrs Alderman said.

“I said ‘Yes definitely apply for it’.”

The process then began with Luke having to put together a written application, addressing items such as why he wanted to be part of the program.

Piecing together the application required strong recommendation from the school, which was derived from his Maths and Science teachers.

Luke believes this opportunity will both be a starting point and stepping-stone for himself in pursuing a career in cyber security one day.

At ADF Luke will be exploring the fundamentals of security and what this means in the world of cyber.

Military personnel will be keen to see how Luke adapts in that environment and how well he can perform with certain tasks.

At the same time Luke is applying for an early entry offer to Charles Sturt University, studying a Bachelor of Information Technology.

It is expected that he will hear the outcome of that around the same time he is on work experience.

Work experience with ADF will take place over five days during the upcoming school holidays in Canberra.

Luke said from his Bachelors he will be hoping to lead into a specialisation with cyber security, which will help him give him a better idea on other career options.

Cootamundra High School’s Catherine Alderman began her role as the school’s Career Advisor in 2010, after the previous Advisor retired. 

She said it’s a rewarding role, having worked with many students over the years and seeing them go places. 

“There’s nothing better than creating an opportunity for a student, who may not had that chance before,” she said. 

“Being that enabler behind them having a successful start to their world, is always a good feeling.”

When asked how far students can go when reaching for the skies, Mrs Alderman said no dream is too ridiculous. 

“If it can be done, we will do it. We’ll do everything we can to make sure it happens,” she said. 

Christopher Tan