For such an exceptional mathematics student, there was a time in Krystal Diatschenko’s life when little seemed to be adding up ... at least not to anything positive.
Now 26 and in the third year of a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Applied Mathematics, Krystal’s transformation is a tribute to how newly found self-belief enhanced by generous support can overcome the greatest of odds.
Krystal is a recipient of a Griffith Futures Scholarship, provided through the University's Staff Giving initiative. These scholarships help students who are excelling in their degrees despite financial or personal disadvantage.
The scholarship is allowing Krystal to continue an inspiring journey from someone who didn’t finish high school to becoming a mathematician with big ideas about the future and her part in it.
“I didn’t have an easy upbringing and while at school I worked as a part-time kitchenhand. From the age of 20, I worked as a baker for a few years,” she says.
“I didn’t think I was smart enough to go to university, but my aunt pushed me to finish a high school equivalent at TAFE. I received 97% in my first maths test and when I heard the result I cried in the classroom.
“I ended up getting honours in my TAFE course and that guaranteed entry to uni. So here I
am. It’s been quite a journey.”
Indeed it has, and it’s far from over as Krystal seeks to translate her time at Griffith into a career bringing mathematics and the environment into positive focus.
“I discovered a love for the logic of mathematics and it truly excited me to know it was something I
could do successfully. I want to see how far I can take it,” says Krystal.
“Last year I enrolled in a community volunteer intern program for the Wild Mountains Trust program and I loved it. I have also begun volunteering for Conservation Volunteers Australia.
“We recently spent a week camping at Inskip Point where we were looking for the black breasted button quail, which is listed as a vulnerable bird species in Queensland. We didn't find any, but we did manage to fill more than 50 rubbish bags with litter, broken glass and weeds.
“In the future I see myself doing something like ecological modelling, which is the study of wildlife migration patterns. I’m specifically interested in using mathematics to influence our approach to urban development and environmental conservation.
“We have the technology and potential to build more considerate infrastructure. I’d like to contribute by encouraging a co-existence between the urban and environmental through processes spanning fields including architecture, philosophy and mathematical modelling.”
Listening to Krystal is to hear a young woman revelling in having a say in her own future. She is also quick to acknowledge those who are helping her, including Griffith University staff whose donations — matched dollar for dollar by the University — create the Griffith Futures Scholarships.
“It has helped me so much in getting textbooks and paying bills. I don’t receive financial support from my family, so it also helps towards the fees for community volunteer work projects.”
Krystal also urges other recipients to take advantage of the Buddy Program, a support initiative aligned to Staff Giving.
“To the staff, please know that the effort you’re putting in for us all is really appreciated. In my case, it has encouraged me to reach my goals, I'm engaging with new people, I’ve grown in self-belief and general confidence and I’m determined to make the most of all you have given me.”