While Year 12 student, Aimee Harris, has always known she wanted to be a hairdresser, she also recognised she needed to finish school.

“I’ve always liked school,” Aimee says, “but I could never get motivated to do homework—even in primary school.”

While academia might not be her passion, when it comes to anything hair salon related, she’s transformed by an endless energy to learn more and hone her skills.

“It’s amazing to have known for so long and been so sure about my future,” she says. “The big dream is to have my own salon.”

Aimee is not oblivious to the hard work and long hours involved, but mostly sees the positives.

“It’s a job that’s really social, it makes people feel better about themselves, and it’s physically active,” she says. “Hairdressing is also creative—from colours, tints, balayage and foils, to cutting and styling techniques.”

BSSC is an ideal setting for Aimee because the college offers VET Hairdressing as an offsite subject in cooperation with Bendigo TAFE.

Aimee completed the VET Salon Assistant subject in 2020 and this year attends TAFE one morning a week for her VET Hairdressing class.

Hoping to complete her apprenticeship at Bendigo salon, Jools for Jim, Aimee applied when they advertised for a receptionist, reasoning it would help them get to know her better.

However, when she went for a trial she confessed her passion for hairdressing and was subsequently employed as a salon assistant.

It felt like a dream coming true.

These days she’s enjoying the company of the other hairdressers and working hard in her VET subject hoping she can fast-track her apprenticeship.

Equally, the salon has been supportive of Aimee’s studies, rostering her shifts around her timetable.

So, whose hair would Aimee love to colour, cut or style?

“Oh, wow,” she laughs, “I’ve actually already thought about this. I’d choose Beyoncé, Cher and Harry Styles. It would be such a privilege—and so amazing to have a conversation with them.”

For Cher there would be a few highlights added to her dark locks. For Beyoncé, whose hair Aimee describes as “really voluminous”, it would be a style.

As for Harry Styles—well it’s not really about the hair with Harry.

Aimee is a huge fan and believes he challenges toxic masculinity through actions such as photo shoots where he wears a dress.

Such inclusivity is really important to Aimee and it’s the feature she most admires about BSSC.

“There are heaps of diverse opportunities at this college… subjects to choose from, people to meet, career advice and ‘special’ days that are really memorable,” she says.

“There are also great support systems—like the amazing Wellbeing Team. Even if you worry you’re not going to fit in, everyone finds their place here.”

Given Aimee’s natural extroversion and how much she struggles with self-motivated learning, it’s no surprise to hear she hated the lockdown in 2020.

“When we came out of lockdown I found myself so grateful to be coming back to school,” she remembers. “It made me appreciate my fantastic friends and the support my teachers give me.”

However, Aimee is no stranger to significant upheavals.

She was born in South Africa and her dad still lives there. When she was seven Aimee, her mother and older brother moved to Australia.

She initially hated moving away from her Dad, other family and the familiarity of South Africa.

These days she is grateful to have left, citing security concerns as the major difference between the two countries and one of the reasons she plans to continue living in Australia.

“I FaceTime Dad a lot and have dual citizenship,” she explains. “I feel like I’m home when I go back.

“I was actually in South Africa just before the first lockdown—but I’m so glad I live in Australia.

“It’s been an incredible opportunity—and now with my job at the salon, and the chance to start on my career while I’m still at school, I see it was the right decision.”

Aimee also recognises what a huge step it must have been for her Mum—emigrating with two small kids to raise; being a sole breadwinner without the extra support of family.

“Mum and I are close,” Aimee says. “We share a passion for music from the 80s onwards, but she does laugh at my playlists which can jump from a rapper to Cher!

Aimee feels proud of who she’s become after undergoing such a big life shift.

“If I could go back and talk with my 12-year-old self I would say, ‘Don’t get consumed by social media’.

“It took me ages to realise most people don’t really care how I, or anyone else, presents themselves. Everyone’s just so worried about their own profile. I had this moment where I saw it all made no sense.

“I wish I’d realised that earlier.”