SHARVIL Kesarwani is not letting a global pandemic get in the way of a "once in a lifetime opportunity".
The former Merewether High student has been granted an exemption to leave the country on September 27 to fly to England, where he will start an undergraduate program called the Mathematical Tripos at the prestigious University of Cambridge.
"It's always a concern," Sharvil, 18, said of not knowing when he will be able to return to Australia.
"Thinking 'During the holidays where will I be?' and 'What if Australia gets better, but I still can't get there because the UK has not fared that well?'
"But it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have to do it, regardless of the pandemic - I just have to adapt."
Sharvil, who has excelled in mathematics ever since he was a child, heard about Cambridge many years ago.
"It seemed like the place to go if you were a maths person," he said.
"It's where Sir Isaac Newton developed calculus.
"It's where Srinivasa Ramanujan was, all these brilliant minds in maths and science and all the other fields were from, so that was all the confirmation I needed."
However Sharvil said he didn't have much time to think seriously about his goal until applications opened last June, midway through his Higher School Certificate year.
He had sat his Mathematics Extension 1 and Mathematics Extension 2 papers when he was in year 10 and the Biology paper in year 11, but still took 10 units last year: English Advanced, Physics, Chemistry, Software Design and Development and Engineering Studies.
The Newcastle Herald reported in 2018 Sharvil had received an Australian Maths Competition gold medal, meaning he achieved in the top 0.02 per cent of all year 11 and 12 entrants.
He also received a gold medal in year seven and achieved a result in the top 0.1 per cent in years eight, nine and 10.
He participated last year in the Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad and received a silver medal for second place in Australia.
He had competed at the same level in 2018 and 2016.
He achieved in the 96th percentile in the University Clinical Aptitude Test, which is used for entry into medical, dental and clinical science degree programs and replaces the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test.
"Since I was five or six I've had a keen interest in maths," he said. "It was encouraged by my parents, who gave me puzzles relating to maths and questions to do."
He applied to Cambridge last October and flew to England last December for an interview.
He received confirmation in January this year that he had been offered a place if he received an Australian Tertiary Admission rank above 98.5 - he received 99.15 - and achieved in the second highest band of results in two three-hour tests.
He achieved in the highest band for both.
"I was pretty relieved that everything worked out," he said.
"I am happy and excited, now I'm more or less waiting for visas to come back and I'll be able to travel."
Sharvil will withdraw from his double degree in mathematics and computer science at the University of Sydney and press pause on his role mentoring other students in the Olympiad movement and tutoring high school students.
He'd like to work in Europe or the United States in computers or finance.
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