A mere two months ago, Denison College Bathurst High Campus school captain Zoe Peters was named the first local representative in some time to contest the Lions Youth of the Year state final in Canberra.
Peters has now been declared the Lions Youth of the Year national champion, taking out the title in Canberra on Monday.
"The win feels amazing, it was definitely unexpected and not something I thought would happen when I first entered the competition at a local level," Peters said.
"Its been an enlightening experience all around, and the people I've met have been amazing.
"Winning this competition is something I'll remember for a very long time."
The Youth of the Year Quest has been run by Lions Clubs all over Australia since 1980, and requires contestants to have a 30-40 minute interview with independent judges and present two impromptu speeches and a prepared speech of the contestant's choice.
Peters said the gravitas of the national final was high in comparison to previous finals, as it was held in conjunction with the Lions Australia convention.
"The final took place in a huge auditorium with hundreds of people in rows of seats, and it really encouraged competitors to step it up to the next level," she said.
"We were given a program with a bio of each competitor, and it was certainly clear the competition was of a high calibre, so I never expected to fare as well as I did."
Peters said a key strength of the competition is the encouragement for competitors to ponder a wide range of views and opinions about society, culture and politics.
"I definitely speak for all competitors when the questions posed in the competition encourage us to consider a wide range of perspectives to form well-rounded opinions," she said.
"The interview process definitely puts us as individuals in good stead for life after school."
Peters, who is set to complete her Higher School Certificate [HSC] this year, has a firm interest in pursuing paramedicine, but isn't ruling out a political-based career path.
"I've picked subjects such as PD/health/PE, geography and biology accordingly to be as broad as possible," she said.
"But the competition has heightened my interest in politics, and I thank the Lions Club of Bathurst for supporting me along the way."
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