Early in 2023 BSSC Year 11 student, Lilly Correll Sukkel, was elected as one of two Deputy Youth Mayors on Bendigo’s Youth Council.

She joins Youth Mayor, BSSC alumni Ryan Peterson, on an executive leading a group of around 18 passionate young locals aged 14 to 24 focused on issues that matter to local youth.

Youth Council identifies concerns and brings them to the attention of the COGB Council. They also keep local young people up to date on projects impacting them.

“Young people will face the consequences—good or bad—of decisions being made now and I’m finding it so rewarding to participate in this. It actually makes me want to pursue a career in politics.

“I first heard about Youth Council through a BSE newsletter. But the reason I applied was due to one of my teachers.”

One of Lilly’s Year 8 teachers encouraged a group of students, including Lilly, to have a go at an inter-school design project—and the team won valuable prizes to benefit their college.

“He then encouraged me to join a STEM project in association with Bendigo Tech School to revive regional rail.

“We looked at pretty much everything to do with trains and rail and improving the whole system. My team also won this.”

Other projects and programs followed and Lilly discovered not only her aptitude for teamwork and innovative thinking, but also a love of participating in such projects.

“I think being an extrovert helps, but it’s also the way I was brought up. Mum is a musician and we were always encouraged to have a go at hands-on things and had very little access to screens.”

Fast forward to 2021 when Lilly was a BSE Year 9 student and successfully applied to join the Bendigo Youth Council.

“Having been encouraged to have a go at those other projects, I felt like I could have a crack at Youth Council—but I don’t think I would have applied without that one teacher who really believed in me.”

Meanwhile, Lilly took up volunteering roles and is presently a member of Victorian Youth Parliament which allows her to contribute at state level on issues concerning youth.

Often the youngest person on the committees she’s part of, she believes it makes others realise young people can be relevant and contribute as politically-active members of society.

While there have been some great experiences through these involvements, one further influence Lilly identifies as very significant is the impact of truly negative experiences.

“I’ve had some really hard times in my life and it’s so important to not give up,” she says. “I think that’s why I want to make a difference for other people.”

If she could go back and talk with herself when she was just twelve, Lilly says she would just give herself a hug.

“She really needed a hug back then.”

Yet Lilly is also proud she has not been worn down by negatives that have impacted her life.

In contrast, BSSC has been one of the positives in Lilly’s life—although she says she’d like to see healthier food in the canteen with more veggies and more options for those with dietary needs.

“I think this college is like a genuinely even playing field—as though we’re all sitting around the same big table together and I’d use the word ‘respect’ to describe BSSC because no-one is left behind.”

Lilly is relishing the freedom to take responsibility for her homework and time management, and says it “proves to me and others that we can do this”!

Lilly is impressed by how approachable her teachers are.

“There’s a warmth and consideration and I really feel they want me to succeed. My English teacher, Alan, makes us feel so welcome as we arrive into his class. It really does make my day cheerier.”

Lilly describes herself as a visual learner—making posters is a key study technique.

“As an artist I try to treat every task as a giant art project. It might not be the best method, but at least it gets me doing my homework.”

Lilly is studying English, Business Studies, Maths Methods, Australian Global Politics, and Art.

Art has always been important to Lilly. She uses diverse media and loves drawing animals, working with textiles or doing 3-D digital modelling.

Art has always been important and Lilly uses diverse media and loves drawing animals, working with textiles or doing 3-D digital modelling.

“I’ll give anything a go actually,” she laughs.

Long term she plans to work towards a role in public office which may be politics or a charity.

“First I need to get a decent ATAR!”

Lilly admires Bendigo’s local politicians “so much” and has had varying amounts of contact with them—from the COGB mayor to the state and federal representatives, all are presently women and Lilly describes them as “powerful and inspiring”.

Julia Gillard is another politician Lilly greatly admires and names among those people she would love to meet and have a conversation with.

“I can talk but I’m also a good listener,” Lilly says, “so I’d want to hear about her journey and I’d ask her number one piece of advice for young women.”

Lilly also mentions David Attenborough and Martin Luther King. And, for an opposing political view, she nominates Winston Churchill and Tony Abbott as people it would be good to talk with.

Lilly is especially grateful for a number of things; “That I can wake up and see the sunrise; that I have hope; that someone chose to believe in me back in Year 8; that I’ve realised material things are great but not what bring real happiness or pure joy.

“The good experiences I have had have been like a hand that was held out to me. I’m proud I grabbed that hand! My big piece of advice is to grab every opportunity that comes your way.”