BlogTrailblazerMinalu de Graaf – Lambton High School | Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer 2022

Minalu de Graaf – Lambton High School | Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer 2022

Minalu de Graaf

What are the Trailblazer Awards?

The Trailblazer Awards celebrates Year 12 students beyond their ATAR, recognising those who have overcome personal challenges and used their final year of school to positively impact their community.

Our Trailblazers will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders, build their personal brand and profile as a future leader, get exam ready in our 1-day HSC Trials Accelerator, and so much more!

Find out how Minalu navigated Year 12 differently throughout 2022!

Introducing: Minalu de Graaf

Minalu de Graaf

Category: Science & Technology

School: Lambton High School

State: NSW

Career Aspiration: Programming AI and designing/developing video games


  • Winning Torrens University Bright Awards in the game category
  • Programed a lung-segmentation AI
  • Self-taught programmer

What makes Minalu a Trailblazer?

Minalu de Graaf won the Torrens University Bright Awards in the gaming category, creating and visualising a concept of a video game. This was an instigator and pivotal motivator for her to advance her programming skills, where she struck gold in machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence). Her interest piqued, she dove into this realm of programming and dedicated a year into researching how she could replicate it herself.

Her efforts proved successful, even developing a program that could detect and extract lungs out of x-ray images. Minalu has also been involved in a casual robotics team, evidently cultivating a world of technology that has birthed her love for programming.

In the course of developing a lung-segmentation AI, she had to familiarise herself with a constant stream of new concepts and attempt to wrap her head on how to transfer these into her own program. The mental exhaustion and frustrations gave rise to self-doubt about her capabilities and skills.

Despite this, she soldiered on. Coding her program was a constant cycle of coding, testing, finding errors, and scavenging online resources to find the solution. While constant failures can lead many to turn away in defeat, Minalu shifted her perspective to see each cycle as an opportunity. Through every stumble, she rose back up.

However, as we know, people are not like machines. Despite Minalu’s desire to smash through the errors and her renewed outlook toward failures, errors that took weeks to resolve felt utterly defeating. She had also learned that breaks and space and time away from it built her stability for the long haul.

Perseverance and tenacity are the main attributes she found essential when venturing into the world of programming, especially being a self-taught amateur. Her newfound skills are also tools essential to tackling Year 12, which also comes with its own failures and defeats.

Problems in life aren’t always going to be quick to resolve, some proving more difficult than others. However, Minalu’s determination and resilience which have been grown and cultivated in the programming world will equip her in academics and life in general.

Year 12, just like coding, comes with its own challenges and hurdles that need to be overcome. In recent years, she has gone through difficulties at home which have ultimately wired a need for validation. This rippled into her academic life as she pressures herself to perform well and gain praise from her teachers.

For every given task, homework mark, and assessment result, her instinctual reaction to a number less than 100% or below the number 1 rank ignites her self-critical voice. Minalu has recognised this error in this thinking and is slowly taking the necessary steps to rewrite her ingrained programmed thought process.

“Ultimately, this project has tested my ability to continue a difficult project and its many challenges, which gave me the opportunity to build my perseverance.”

In the future, Minalu plans to continue programming AI and designing and developing video games. Seeing as how successful she is now, it is no question that she will also succeed even more as she up-skills and advances in this field.

Minalu de Graaf is certainly a force to be reckoned with and a demonstration of what resilience and determination lead to the fruition of. This is why she is deserving to be in our Top 50 Trailblazers!

The Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazer Awards

The Trailblazer Awards aim to identify and celebrate students who use their final years of school to invest holistically in the skills and experiences that will maximise their own future opportunities and make a contribution to the future of our society.

Our winners for the Year 12 Trailblazer Awards have demonstrated initiative in volunteering for their school or community, have participated in co-curricular activities, and have held leadership positions within their schools.

Learn more about who placed in the Top 50 Year 12 Trailblazers here!

About Art of Smart Education

At Art of Smart Education, we’re an award-winning provider of holistic tutoring and mentoring for students in years K-12. Our mission is to help students answer the difficult question, “What am I going to do with my life when I finish school, and how do I get there?” 

We understand that true success involves mastering study, career and leadership skills while maintaining your wellbeing, not just excelling in academics and as a result, over the last decade, we’ve supported over 10,000 students to achieve their best and maximise their options for life after school.

Each year over one million young Australians, parents, and teachers access our guides, videos and resources to navigate the journey through high school.

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