Year 12 student, Caitlyn Steer, has an interesting heritage; one that would presently preclude her from being Prime Minister of Australia. Her Mum is Chinese and her Dad Canadian. They met when he travelled to China to teach English, and married there.
Caitlyn was born in China but the family moved to Australia when she was just six months old.
“We’ve been back a few times to visit the tiny village my Mum comes from and also to see family,” Caitlyn says. “At home we speak both English and Cantonese. My Cantonese is okay for general conversation, but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent.”
Caitlyn is well-known at BSSC for her amazing guitar and vocal performances. She also plays lead guitar and sings in the all-girl band ‘Trophy Wives’ with Billie Taylor and Anita Pollard.
“I actually like playing guitar more than singing,” Caitlyn says, “even though I’ve had a number of years of vocal training.
“My desire to learn guitar began as a four-year-old. I was inspired by Murray, the red ‘Wiggle’.
“It’s true,” Caitlyn insists, “I wanted to be just like him!”
Although Caitlyn enjoyed singing during her primary school years, her artistic focus was mostly ballet. Then, during Years 8 and 9, music became such a central part of her life she thought it might even become a career.
“I know that music will always be a part of my life, but I want a career involving climate and weather,” she says. “I’m interested in spacial information systems that gather and interpret data about the earth.”
To get there, Caitlyn is studying English Literature, Maths Methods, Biology, Music Styles and Composition and, her present favourite, Geography.
“One teacher, who has really been a mentor to me, was my Year 11 Biology teacher, Meagan. She was so enthusiastic and she infected me with that enthusiasm,” Caitlyn says.
“Coming to BSSC did not concern me too much. I came here with a bunch of friends from Crusoe and we still hang out. I’ve always been a bit aloof. I prefer keep to myself and am not too worried about going into new situations (although I find going on-stage when I haven’t practiced enough a bit stressful). Maybe the biggest challenge about coming here was working out what to wear each day.
“I like the college—the atmosphere… the fact that no one treats you like a kid. And there’s lots of choice. I think BSSC does a pretty good job at being inclusive.”
Outside of school, and when she is not performing or practicing, Caitlyn is passionate about orienteering and reading.
“Orienteering is a winter sport,” she explains, “and there is usually one event per week while the weather is cool. You need to be reasonably fit and have good navigational skills. It’s really good fun. I did a run last year near Renmark across red sand desert and scrub—amazing.
“I also like to invest myself into fictional worlds through reading. My favourite author at the moment is Tolkien—Lord of the Rings; The Hobbit. I’ve also dipped into Game of Thrones. But too many characters I like are dying!”
Asked about global concerns, Caitlyn has a natural interest in the environment and believes Australia isn’t fulfilling its wind and solar potential.
“So many people think coal is the only answer.”
She’s also concerned about the way our urban environments are growing—the urban sprawl and our congested and expensive public transport systems.
“There are cities who are actively working to improve livability,” Caitlyn says. “In Seoul, city planners even have systems in place so that public transport can adjust to the demands of individual days. They also have housing—ranging from really cheap—so no one needs to live on the streets.”
Asked to reflect back on her own life and choose some advice to give her 12-year-old self, Caitlyn said she would recommend going out of her way more often to meet and talk to people.
“As soon as you put yourself out there, you realise other people are really interesting.”