When BSSC Year 12 student, Jada Fry, reflects on the years she spent at her 7 to 10 college, she recognises how she has matured since then.

While Jada thoroughly enjoyed her time at Bendigo South East, she feels she didn’t have the attitude or resilience to fully commit to her studies.

“I just gave up on work I decided was too hard or too much,” she reflects. “A number of times I got terrible marks just because I decided I couldn’t do it.

“I would love to go back and say to myself: Even when school work or situations seem almost impossible to manage, keep going—you may surprise yourself!”

Despite wishing she’d handled some things differently, these days Jada can see evidence of a more mature mindset in her approach to the challenges of remote learning.

It was already bubbling away on her first day at BSSC in 2019. With the nerves pumping, she found herself excited by the thought of a fresh start.

At the end of Year 10 Jada looked around at different colleges but decided on BSSC.

“The programs on offer were so varied, so amazing and led to so many different career options,” she says. “I felt BSSC would put me on the front foot and most likely to succeed.”

Once Jada was immersed in life at BSSC she noticed there was more to the college than its capacity to prepare her for her future.

She particularly admires the college’s commitment to welcoming diversity—that she could be herself and not be judged for it.

“I’ve definitely been happy here,” she says. “BSSC opens up your world because of the variety of people you meet and the great friends you make.”

Despite an interest in the Beauty Industry, early in Year 11 Jada began to wonder if nursing might be a career she would enjoy. Towards the end of that year she had a conversation with a newly graduated midwife and realised midwifery was for her.

Jada plans to enrol in Nursing at La Trobe University Bendigo next year and then go straight into studying midwifery.

Having this decision sorted made her choice of subjects for Year 12 much more intentional.

This year she has taken English, Further Maths, Sociology, Psychology and Health & Human Development.

While she loves all her subjects and describes all her teachers as “amazing”, it’s Psychology that has captured her imagination.

Jada did not take Psychology in Year 11, but has not had too many hiccups adapting to the Year 12 program.

“If I could rerun last year, I would definitely do Psychology 1-2,” she says

Bronnie Bishop is both her Advisor and her Psychology teacher and Jada has been inspired and appreciative of the support she has given her.

In fact, she’s been so impressed she nominated Bronnie for a teaching award in recognition of her efforts supporting students during remote learning.

Jada’s first day remote learning involved four online classes. She describes that day as “strange” and “weird”—not surprising for someone who loves being around people.

“Emails to my teachers just aren’t the same as a face-to-face conversation,” she says.

Worried that her motivation could slide very easily without the structure of the classroom and the company of others with a similar focus, Jada was inspired to think about how she could make the situation work for her.

One approach she chose was to reframe studying off-site as a positive opportunity to get some new skills and take even more responsibility for her own learning.

“I decided these COVID-19 restrictions could be a way to learn to teach myself,” Jada says.

Each day Jada explains what she is studying to her parents or other members of her family as a way of checking that she really does understand the topic. She also asks her parents to quiz her.

She also has more time to focus on areas that need a little extra attention and has realised the brilliance of mind maps.

“I have them all over the wall,” she says. “I use lots of colour and I’ve discovered I can remember things so much better”.

But Jada has another weapon in her fight to keep on top of remote learning. She has stepped up her exercise program—mainly working with weights and going for a walk or run—and is convinced that exercise flattened a huge range of the hurdles that school in lockdown caused.

“It’s improved my motivation a crazy amount,” she says, “and created a clear and open mindset.

“I can smash out work in a way I rarely did in the past, with time to do extra reading and practice exams. Exercise also makes me feel happier.”

These days Jada is frequently completely up to date with her work and much more organised. She has a routine she created herself—built around the structure of her set timetable—and her exercise program.

“I hope I‘ll go back to school completely ready to go with second semester,” she says.

If you’re reading this thinking Jada can only ever be found with a textbook in one hand and a 5kg weight in the other, you’d be wrong. She is also a self-confessed YouTube junkie.

“I love watching those comedians who talk about global issues and say it like it is,” she says.

Jada is also into lifestyle videos that give advice about how to stay productive and healthy, or achieve goals.

She has also has an abiding interest in makeup that, in Year 11, led her to enrol in VET Hair and Beauty course.

She describes the subject as an awesome experience that led to her feeling much more confident about her own makeup.

Thinking globally, Jada is finding stories of the pandemic from around the world very disturbing.

“The number of deaths in the US is so upsetting,” she says. “Those trucks full of bodies… almost every one of those people have a devastated family who weren’t able to see them while they were in hospital, or be with them when they died.”

Jada feels the way the international media is reporting the pandemic is increasing panic and often reduces human beings to statistics.

In contrast she is impressed with Australia’s handling of the crisis—particularly Victoria. She has come to really admire Premier Daniel Andrews for how quickly he introduced restrictions and his cautious approach to opening things up again.

“As young people, I believe we’ll be hugely advantaged in the future for having been through this pandemic experience—partly because BSSC has used some great strategies to transition us into remote learning and given us such fantastic support.

“After this is over I hope that as a country we will be better than we were: more resilient, more grateful, kinder, and maybe even have a stronger economy eventually.

“I actually look forward to telling my grandchildren what I lived through and what I learnt.”