11-year-old Lekha Gupta scored a hundred per cent at the International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) to showcase her competency in mathematics

Although a prime achievement for a pre-teen girl, the ICAS medal is one of the many that Lekha has bagged in recent years. The year 7 student at Diocesan School for Girls is a regular recipient of certificates and trophies at her school.

The International Competitions and Assessments for Schools (ICAS) are independent skills-based assessments with a competition element.
Over one million student entries are accepted from over 6,300 schools in Australia and New Zealand annually. In addition, students from over 20 countries including Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA participate in ICAS each year.

Students with the top score in each subject in each year level are awarded a medal and a medal winner’s certificate.

“I would like to try the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) test next. It is aimed at high school students,” says Lekha. But what is the inspiration behind her indomitable spirit?

“The success of older girls in my school inspires me. There is so much pressure and yet they excel in their areas. Alice Tilley, who will be the head girl in 2015, is smart, good in sports, has a good personality and is nice to everyone even if she doesn’t like the person. That is a good quality,” explains a discerning Lekha.

What about the challenges that came in the way? “I would say writing is a challenge for me. Although my reading age is of 14-15 years, I find it difficult to express my ideas in writing,” says Lekha. She tries to edit her writing with the help of thesaurus and looking for synonyms “to improve” sentences. 

The other challenge that Lekha faced recently was organising the Primary Year’s Programme exhibition with her classmates. “It is an exhibition that is organised every year by year 6 and it was so difficult to coordinate and collate all the information. Our topic was Auckland City Mission where we volunteered and shared our experiences,” explains Lekha with a twinkle in her eye.

So who is her role model? Pat comes the reply: “I look up to my cousin Richie. He has taught himself to swim, play guitar and makes time for us always. He always has a solution to my problems.”

After a pause, Lekha adds, “He can relate to my problems more than my parents as he was in school not long ago. Given a chance, I would like to learn to play the guitar like him.”

What else does little Lekha dream about? “To become the CEO – or at least the head of one of the branches – of a big company that has something to do with technology,” says Lekha quite readily, as if she has already started planning her professional career.

To steer back to an interest more child-like: is there a celebrity you would like to meet? “JK Rowling, Rick Riordan and Kathy Reichs,” rattles off the little genius.