Joelle Colliver has a very clear plan for her future; an ATAR that will earn her a place at Melbourne University to study BA Arts focussed on languages and history, with the intention to become a teacher.

On her way to achieving that ATAR, Joelle is acquiring other skills through her involvement with BSSC’s Student Council.

“I joined Student Council because it was always something I wanted to do while at my 7 -10 college,” she says. “When I heard that everyone was welcome to join at BSSC, and my older brother had already told me how much fun it was, well, I was in. And it is really good! I am improving my communication skills and my capacity to make connections with other people.”

As well as Student Council, Joelle is an ambassador for BSSC on the Victorian Student Representative Council; she has joined the newly-created Inclusion Ambassadors and also  plans to be part of the ‘buddy system’ that will soon be established.

“The ‘buddy system’ will help ensure international students feel welcome at BSSC,” she explains. “It’s not just about supporting people while they are at the college, we want people to make friendships that continue outside school hours—on the weekends.”

And although Joelle is one of those people who often sees the funny side of things, her concern about issues related to inclusion is both personal and global.

“The way the LGBTI community is treated by some people in our society is just unreal,” she says. “I just don’t get the whole marriage equality debate. It frustrates me—we’re all just people.

“I really admire Emma Watson and loved that amazing feminist speech she gave to the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign. That quote, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ was so inspiring.

“I also really admire my parents: they are very community-minded and are prepared to act on issues. They own a dance studio and used their experience and interest to help get the Rainbow Ball established.”

Joelle has been ballroom dancing for years, but is taking a break from competing this year so she can put more time into her studies. She’s also involved with Nexus Youth Theatre Company and is playing the role of Liesl Von Trapp in their production of The Sound of Music.

In the midst of this very full life, Joelle is managing to fit in her Year 11 studies.

“I love all my classes,” she says. “They’re hard, but I am really enjoying them all.”

She has also noticed how the size of BSSC, combined with the choice of subjects, has meant that almost everyone in a class is genuinely interested in that subject.

“It makes it really easy to connect with new friends because we have similar interests.”

Asked what she would say if she could go back and advise her 13 year-old self, Joelle takes the conversation back to inclusion.

“I was bullied really badly through high school, so I would probably tell myself, ‘you’ll get through it… you’ll be fine. Just stick with the friends you know are true.’”