BSSC Year 12 student, Amelia Cleave, was recently awarded a much-coveted SAGSE scholarship.

SAGSE is the acronym for ‘Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange’ and amongst the twelve students selected from across Victoria this year, two were BSSC students. Amelia says she burst into tears when she heard she’d been selected.

The SAGSE program was founded in Melbourne in 1967 by Herr Fritz von Einem Joosten, a German businessman who was badly injured during the Second World War. Fritz wondered if such wars could be avoided if young people from different countries met and understood each other better.

The process for Amelia began last year when she put her hand up to become a host for a German student from June to August 2022. Amelia’s family hosted Maja for the three months.

While it was not a guarantee, the fact Amelia had hosted Maja strengthened her application for a SAGSE scholarship to Germany.

“It was still a demanding process,” she remembers. “First there was the all-applicants gathering—Kaffe Kuchen (coffee and cakes)—which gave adjudicators a chance to observe students interacting.”

The following day was a formal interview that included a small German-speaking element.

Amelia heads to Germany in November once her exams are over— and will see Maja again while there, returning to Australia in February.

“I’ll be away for both Christmas and my 18th birthday,” she says.

Assuming she reaches the study score she needs, on return Amelia is looking forward to taking up a conditional offer to study Nursing at La Trobe University Bendigo. Nursing has recently been made a HECs-free course so she will not incur the debt so many uni students graduate with.

“It also means I can live at home and I have the option of doing an extra year to qualify as a paramedic.

Meanwhile Amelia says BSSC has been “full of opportunities” for her.

“The Chemistry tutoring program that runs every Tuesday morning has made such a difference to my comprehension. But it’s also about things like the number of languages on offer and the VVLN (Victorian Virtual Learning Network) which I accessed in Year 10 for Maths.

“This year I’ve done really well in General Maths and even got 100% in a SAC last semester.”

That moment was pivotal for Amelia for it showed her that if she set her mind to it, she could achieve great things.

“Everyone’s so nice at this college, I have fantastic friends and I’d recommend it 100%. Every day I look forward to seeing my teachers who are all so lovely and care so much for me.”

As Amelia prepared for VCAA exams, she found summaries useful and practice exams really helpful. She recommends focusing, not on what you got right, but on what you got wrong.

“Practice exams help you learn to be really clear about what a question is asking—and that’s so important.”

De-stressing is also crucial and Amelia loves walking in nature, getting plenty of sleep and sometimes just stepping back and taking a break. She’s been doing martial arts for seven years and loves to crochet and play a little guitar.

If it were possible, Amelia would love a conversation with one of her uncles who died when she was five years old. Interestingly, he also spoke German.

“Stories my parents tell me make me think he was a really cool dude. He was also gay during the 70s and 80s when attitudes were so intolerant. I’d love to know how he coped with this and why he studied German.”

Reflecting on her time at BSSC, Amelia says, “I feel like I’ve really opened up during these last twelve months. I’ve also learnt to respect people for who they are and to listen and not be judgemental.”

Invited for a Student Profile a year ago, Amelia says she would have run the other way and feels proud of the positive changes she can see in herself.

If she could go back and give her 12 year-old self some advice Amelia would say; “Have more confidence. Don’t live for other people—and study German vocab!!”

“Covid taught me how great it is to have a school to go to and not to take socialising with friends for granted. I feel grateful and privileged to have so many caring friends and the chance to get an excellent education—which now includes an exchange to Germany.”