A total of 68 students achieved a study score above 40 – with 50 being a perfect score – in Italian last year, placing them in the top nine per cent in the state.

Two students, however, went above and beyond, achieving a perfect study score of 50 for Italian.

Carmel Italiano, from Our Lady of Mercy College in Heidelberg, was one of the top two students in the state.

Italiano has Italian heritage on both sides of her family, with her paternal ancestors migrating from Calabria in the 1920s and 1930s and her maternal relatives arriving from northern Italy around the same time.

While she didn’t grow up speaking Italian at home, her family still uphold the traditions passed down through the generations, such as making sausages and other specialties.

Italiano started learning Italian in Grade 2 and chose to continue studying the language in high school to connect with her roots and discover more about her heritage.

“I also believe it’s a very valuable skill to know a second language to help with travel and employment opportunities,” she explained.

Italiano said she was “shocked” when she found out she’d achieved a perfect score for Italian.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all but I was very happy and relieved,” she added.

Despite the 18-year-old’s outstanding achievement, she admitted that studying Italian wasn’t without its challenges.

“The hardest part for me was speaking in Italian,” she said.

“I found that I can understand the language through listening and reading but speaking it was a challenge.”

Italiano is now preparing to study Speech Pathology at Australian Catholic University (ACU) with the intention of one day becoming a speech pathologist.

“I’d love to continue studying Italian in the future not only because I want to travel in Italy but also because I believe it will be useful in my career path,” she said.

As Italiano embarks on the next chapter of her life, she strongly urges the next generation of VCE students to consider studying Italian or a second language in general.

“It’s such a rewarding experience that will benefit you well into the future, even after high school,” she concluded.