THREE high-achieving indigenous students from Swan View Senior High School are one step closer to making their dreams a reality.
Steering a pathway against the odds, they are on the way to becoming a doctor, a teacher and an actor.
Shontae Coyne, Kawlija-Merle Brahim and Bertha Moore are among 10 state-wide winners selected for a scholarship from The Young Australia League (YAL).
The national youth organisation supports youth experiencing hardship due to social circumstances, disability or distance.
Upper secondary students Shontae and Kawlija will receive annual bursaries of up to $3000 in years 10, 11 and 12, while Year 9 student Bertha will be awarded a $2000 scholarship.
YAL chairman Frank Schaper said the students impressed the selection committee with the quality of their applications and genuine desire to succeed academically despite financial and other barriers.
“We view these scholarships as a ‘hand up’ not a ‘hand out’ that allow young people experiencing disadvantage continued access to education that they might otherwise not have,” he said.
Academic extension student Shontae (15) said becoming a doctor would allow her to play a positive role in her community and help the most disadvantaged.
She lost her mother when she was five and her father is in a nursing home after a car accident that left him unable to speak or take care of himself and his family.
She shares a home with 11 people, including eight children, under the care of her 23-year-old cousin and legal guardian.
As one of the oldest children, she feels the pressure her cousin is under to look after so many and she relies heavily on the support offered by her school.
“For the first time in my life, I can be completely focused on my education rather than always worrying about money,” she said.
Kawlija (14) wants to study education and psychology at university and then teach students in remote communities.
She said her desire to achieve had made her the target of bullies, but she overcame the challenges to gain selection for a UN youth conference in July in New Zealand.
“Knowing I have the funds to purchase a laptop, pay my school fees and to be able to attend all camps and excursions until I graduate is such a relief for me and my family,” she said.
Bertha (13) is on the Swan View SHS academic extension program and a role model for her eight younger siblings.
“The scholarship helps me to have the same resources and opportunities as other kids my age,” she said.
Swan View SHS principal Melesha Sands said the girls embodied the spirit of the school’s Follow the Dream program.