Year 12 student, Anna Winter, has had a rich experience at BSSC, making many new friends, learning a great deal about herself and coming to the conclusion there’s more to life than exam results.

“It’s not that I don’t care about my academic results—I want to do well,” she insists, “but life has opened up in ways that’s given me a fresh perspective.”

Anna describes the college as “inclusive”.

“It doesn’t matter what path you’re on, you find like-minded people here,” she says. “Teachers go above and beyond to give you whatever support you need to keep on top of your work.

“BSSC is definitely a place you can be yourself.”

Anna might be one of those students you look at and think, ‘well she’s got it all together’ and that’s mostly true. However, Anna has been through an experience most young people would find utterly devastating.

“When I was little, the world felt perfect, she recalls. “I thought a big deal was not being allowed to stay up till 8.30pm.

“When I was in Grade 4, my dad died from Motor Neurone Disease. Even though I’d been prepared, I’d quietly believed he would be fine and everything would be okay.”

Anna now understands that, at the time, she couldn’t process all she was feeling.

Those pent-up emotions and reactions began to re-emerge in the form of anxiety and depression when she was in Year 7.

“I didn’t like the way I was, and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t fix myself,” she says. “I didn’t initially make the link back to losing Dad.”

Eventually and reluctantly, Anna agreed she probably needed to get some professional help and began seeing a psychologist.

“It took a long time to unpack it all, but it’s been so helpful,” she says. “I would really encourage anyone struggling like that to get professional help. It’s a big and difficult step, but so worth it.”

Anna says the experience has made her realise you can survive the worst.

“On the other hand, and I know it sounds strange, I’m also grateful for things I have learnt because of all that grief and suffering,” she says.

“Losing my dad and then, more recently, my friend Shae, has completely transformed my perspective on the world and other people.”

Anna says she is much more aware of what is really important in life.

“I know people’s suffering doesn’t always show and I hope I’m a kinder, more empathetic person.”

While she hasn’t settled on her future direction beyond school, Anna knows she wants to do something that improves the lives of other people.

She studied Psychology 3/4 in Year 11 and expects she will choose this or a similar path.

“My positive experience with professional support—and all those people who have consistently been there for me—has inspired me,” Anna says.

“I’ve also had some truly fantastic teachers who have brought out my best.”

Her attitude to maths is an example of this.

Indifferent to the study of numbers in primary school, Anna says she “really got into maths” at BSE with teachers who made it engaging and convinced her she could not only do it, but enjoy it.

“I think my brain is actually very content with the structure and process of maths,” she says. “Maths Methods is now my favourite subject and while I’m not going to study maths at tertiary level, it may come in handy if I study psychology.”

Anna is also studying English, Legal Studies and Art this year and is loving the Maths Boot Camp and extra English sessions on offer.

“I found adapting to the pace of VCE quite challenging,” she says. “Sometimes I’ve felt overwhelmed, but I think that’s the nature of VCE. The most important thing for me is being organised.”

Anna says when everything seems due at once and a SAC is looming, time management is key.

“I write lists and try to make sure I’m prepared for each class,” she says.

De-stressing is important and she loves to escape into a good novel—especially a graphic novel written by Alice Oseman who has a “beautiful and honest” way of writing.

“Reading gives me an enjoyable escape into a completely different world,” Anna says. “Yet it still makes me think and engages my imagination.”

Anna has also enjoyed the way BSSC celebrates the abilities of its wonderfully talented students.

“The art exhibitions, the music performances in the plaza and even the footy matches at the QEO—it all makes me appreciate other students,” she says. “You really see how much people have to offer.”

Since Anna made this comment she has joined the ranks of students willing to get up and share their talents and passions with wider college community.

Anna recently participated with nine other students in BSSC’s first Speech Night—and shared the honour of winning the inaugural Award for Excellence in Persuasive Oration with fellow-student, Amy Wrigglesworth.

When she’s not at the college or studying, Anna is a Harry Styles tragic, enjoys hanging out with her mum and would love to have more time to practice her art skills.

She’d also love to have a conversation with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and UN Messenger of Peace, Malala Yousafzai.

“I’d ask her about being such a public figure and would love to talk to her about those issues that matter so much to her and how she wants to keep on contributing,” Anna says.

“Mostly I’d love to hear about the more private or personal side of her.”

If Anna could go back in time and offer her 12-year-old self some advice it would be to find the best in things.

“Enjoy experiences and people for who and what they are and don’t worry about what might go wrong. Live in the present and don’t try to force life into some preconceived notion.”