Orange High School student Claudia Smith, 18, is one of just 36 students across the state to receive the Minister's Award for Excellence in Student Achievement.
The annual award is given out each year to recognise select students for their exceptional academic achievement and contribution to public education.
Orange High School (OHS) said Claudia was a "clear example of the school's motto" because of her dedication to every aspect of school life.
"Claudia proudly demonstrates our values of safety, learning and respect in everything she does - academically, on the sporting field, in the arts, as a school leader and in every interaction she has with her teachers and her peers," a spokesperson said.
"She excels academically and strives to continually improve in all areas of her academic life as a learner who approaches every task with a determination to build her knowledge and Orange High School is extremely proud of her achievements."
Currently in the process of completing her HSC from home due to the lockdown, Claudia said she hoped to study medical science at university so she could go onto a career where she was involved in developing vaccines.
"I'm constantly changing [my mind about what to study] but I'm thinking of going into a field of health and maybe biomedical research or biotechnology," she said.
As well as being a swimming and athletics champion throughout high school, Claudia had always had an exceptional academic record which she combined with many years of volunteer work in the community.
NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said that the 2021 awards highlighted the excellence underpinning the NSW public school system, even as schools, students and teachers navigated the challenges of natural disasters and a global pandemic.
"These awards reveal that regardless of the circumstances, our students, teachers, principals and the school community are always striving for learning and teaching excellence," Ms Mitchell said.
Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the geographic spread of award winners demonstrated that the State's public education system was delivering excellence regardless of location.
"Whether it is the use of technology to deliver language classes across the State, an on-site observatory inspiring the astronomers of the future or a program using a school cafeteria to improve wellbeing, the programs represented in these awards are just the tip of the iceberg in outstanding initiatives that are happening across the NSW public education system," Ms Harrisson said.
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