As Amelia Bailey completed her final year at Bendigo South East College, she and her family explored the possible options for her final years.

BSSC won their vote partly because Amelia could continue her German language studies.

Now six months into her time at BSSC, Amelia cannot think of a single thing she would change and appreciates being surrounded by a strong community.

“BSSC creates a space where everyone is accepted for who they are,” Amelia says. “The college helps us find our place—that’s definitely my favourite thing about Senior.”

Amelia dived straight in, accepting the invitation to join the Student Leadership Team (SLT) and was promptly voted in as Vice-President on behalf of the Year 11 cohort.

Her motivation was to build her leadership skills and contribute to making the experience of being a BSSC student really great.

However, the SLT has far surpassed her expectations. She says the team felt remarkably like one big family from day one, and after just six months, she recognises her growth as a leader.

“Diversity is what you want on a team like this,” Amelia says. “I’ve learnt so much from others—the way they do life and how to work with others regardless of different opinions.”

Being part of the SLT has also made her really passionate about the college.

Amelia is most proud of the way the SLT led BSSC students through Anzac Day in the midst of COVID-19. She is also excited that SLT has been able to set up various clubs across the college—enhancing the opportunity for students with all kinds of interests to find one another.

“I think about these clubs like the bonds between atoms,” she says. “All these connections going in different directions that create something bigger than the sum of their parts.”

The team is still hoping to host a Formal later in the year—COVID-19 restrictions will dictate whether they succeed.

BSSC is, of course, also about academic learning.

Amelia’s favourite subject is German Language studies and she is loving the way her language studies compliment her English Language subject.

Her other subjects are VET Music Industry Performance, Psychology, Chemistry and Maths Methods.

Her ‘hot study tip’ is to pay attention not only to what you write down when you are making notes, but how you highlight them. Amelia has a method that applies the same principles of highlighting for each subject.

“I actually get a lot of joy taking notes in a very creative way,” she says. “I use colours and calligraphy on headings, and I only use colours I really love.”

But few people know that, outside of school, Amelia is also a keen rock climber, a trained classical vocalist and has been studying German for almost five years? Diversity is surely a theme in Amelia’s life.

As part of her love of all things German, Amelia visited Germany on a school trip in Year 10 and was enchanted by the kindness of the people she met, the beauty of the landscape and the stunning majesty of the mountains.

“Driving towards Italy one day, I began to write poetry to try and express how incredible those mountain ranges made me feel,” she remembers.

Her kinship with mountains extends to her passion for rock climbing. Although it’s been a while since she was ‘dangling in space’, Amelia and her dad are planning a trip to their favourite Victorian peak, the iconic Mount Arapiles.

Rock climbing induces its fair share of adrenaline, and Amelia admits it’s possible her enjoyment of public speaking is partly because it can all go terribly wrong. As can singing in public.

Amelia, a soprano, began singing lessons in Grade 3 and continues to relish her classical lessons with Bendigo’s Pam Jackson who has been her teacher since Year 9 and who Amelia describes as “the best”.

Alongside her classical repertoire that includes her favourite song, ‘Bist Du Bei Mir’ by Bach, Amelia also enjoys performing in musical theatre.

While music is a big part of who she is, Amelia doesn’t expect she’ll pursue it professionally.

With little clarity about her future pathway, she is presently thinking about a Bachelor of Arts with majors in German Language and International Relations.

Meanwhile, the here and now finds Amelia incredibly glad to be back at the college after the weeks of lockdown. She admits to being “pretty tragic” during lockdown, which she hated.

Despite this, she managed to keep on top of most of her work and was also delighted to find her respect for politicians grow as they dealt with the crisis and attempted to contain the virus.

While the pandemic brought the world into our lounge rooms, Amelia feels there’s a lot going on besides coronavirus that needs our focus, particularly protecting the natural environment.

She was one of the organisers of Bendigo students for last year’s School Strike for Climate Change.

“What surprised me at the rally was how much anger students had,” she says. “I don’t think it’s the right way to address the problem.

“I try to approach environmental issues with hope… this is something we can solve and we have to find ways to undo the damage we’ve done.”

While Amelia admires those who work tirelessly on behalf of the environment, she names a friend, Elly, who while still a student, started a non-profit organisation to support women in isolated African villages. Elly is presently working for an organisation that seeks to free prisoners of conscience across the world.

Amelia has had a huge variety of experiences during her secondary education. Asked what advice she would offer her 12 year-old self if she could, she cites the need for balance between confidence and humility.

“Overconfidence leads to arrogance and too much humility means you never actually do anything,” she says. “I think I’ve found a much better balance now.”