Year 11 student Kara is the very definition of an empath. As a young woman with wisdom beyond her years, she has been able to transform some tougher life experiences into motivation to be kind, welcoming and respectful of everyone she encounters.
She has certainly been able to bring that energy to NG Central since she arrived in 2019. But mainstream school didn't suit Kara and she grappled with anxiety as a result of relentless bullying. To avoid this, she regularly missed school and even found it a struggle to leave the house. With the help of a counsellor, then a youth worker, Kara slowly built her confidence back up and started to exploring alternative education options.
Now at NGC, Kara feels like a totally different person; she has consistently high attendance, is making huge strides in the classroom, forming strong friendships and cultivating a great connection with her teachers and support staff.
"Before coming to NGC, I was brutally bullied and I used to dread going to school and totally self-isolated. But here, I immediately relaxed. Andrea (our principal) was so welcoming, talked to me like I was mature and really cared about my goals and dreams. It felt like my previous school didn't care about what I was going through, but everyone at NGC gives you open, honest support and engages with you as an individual."
As well as excelling in the classroom, Kara has been a top student in her chosen V.E.T subject of Retail. She has particularly enjoyed working on her salon skills, including hair straightening, curling, washing and braiding, and relished the chance to try out make-up and nail tech techniques. There have been plenty of chances to see how retail operates in the real world and Kara has enjoyed going on excursions to Erina Fair, learning about merchandising and doing a make-up course with Mecca.
Kara has been able to access a range of supports at NG Central, from our Standing Strong program for female students to RYSS's Love Bites program, which explores big topics like safety, healthy relationships and consent. She also regularly benefits from chatting with our school counsellor Damian and notes that any of the teachers can be counted upon for a listening ear and some daily encouragement.
"There's not the regular school hierarchy here; it feels like a level playing field. The other students and your teachers are here to help you succeed and push you to do the things you feel you can't. That's a big lesson I've learnt - it's all about mindset and you can do it if you believe you can. I also really like how there is no bullying; everyone has been through their own experiences and no one tries to hide who they are. Whether you've had hard life stuff happen or you have a disability or you're different from the norm in some way, there's no stigma or separation. We all just focus on our similarities."
Kara has her sights set on graduating Year 12 and pursuing work in a salon or a make-up store. She even has an ambition to run her own beauty business, where she can put her skills to use and call the shots. We are sure she will pick up some handy tips when she completes her Retail work placement later this term. In the meantime, NG Central is so grateful to have Kara's optimistic, warm and bubbly presence lighting up our school!
"Finding NGC was such a relief - I wanted to come every single day and it really brought back my confidence. I'm back to the person I'm happy to be. If you've struggled with not fitting in at a mainstream school or dealt with anxiety, I want to assure you it can get better. I want people to know that they can decide to make different choices, explore non-mainstream opportunities and talk to a counsellor. It might really change - and save - their life."