Year 12 student, Milly Henders, has wanted to be a doctor since she was five years. These days, as a young adult, she is drawn towards paediatrics because she enjoys being around children.

“I want a role that lets me be physically active and constantly interacting with people,” she says. “I want to work in a way that makes a real difference.”

In the meantime, BSSC is working brilliantly for Milly—both academically and socially—giving her the confidence to step into the next phase of her life.

“The standard of teaching at the college is its best quality,” she says, “but a word that comes to mind when I think about the college is friendship.

“I’ve formed the best bonds with my teachers and made heaps of new friends. I love the non-judgy culture here. It’s about mutual respect and appreciation of diversity.”

When she started Year 11, Milly was still worried about ‘trivial things’, like whether she was wearing the ‘right’ clothes.

“I realised at some point there was no ‘right’ thing and the college was a great place to experiment,” she says. “Nobody is going to have an issue with what you’re wearing.”

Milly also believes being on a first-name basis with teachers sets everything up to build a mutually warm and respectful relationship.

“I love the way we’re taught,” she says. “Everything’s so well-organised with lots of depth, yet presented in easy-to-grasp ways.”

Milly describes what she calls ‘a comfort bubble’ her teachers have created through how they interact in class.

“I’m now having moments where I realise I really do know the stuff we’re studying and I’m not as stressed as I was,” she says.

Milly joined the Student Leadership Team this year and looks forward to helping create many of the highlights of 2021 and enjoying the new friendships she will inevitably make.

Beyond the college she is fortunate to have fantastic support from both her immediate family and a big extended family who have had her back through some truly hard situations.

“We’re a loud, extroverted group who do heaps of things together,” she says. “I can go home angry or upset and just can’t stay that way because someone notices and I laugh or cry—either way the frustration dissipates.”

Access to motorbikes, a ‘paddock bomb’ and a ski boat has given Milly endless hours of fun with her siblings and cousins.

Though she’s also a bookworm—classics, sci fi, fantasy and biography—and enjoys a good action movie whenever she gets the chance.

Music is important too and she was stoked to receive a record player for her birthday—perfect for a girl who’s been collecting vinyl for a while.

Despite all the positives in Milly’s life, her smiling face and warm persona belie past struggles with bullying.

“I was only six years old when the bullying began—and the bullies were supposedly my friends,” she recalls.

“They told me everyone thought I was really annoying, including my teachers and my family, and that no other kids would like me if I tried to make different friends—and I believed them.”

Milly told nobody and the bullying continued through most of primary school, eroding her confidence and turning her into a person she considered “awful”.

“I wished I could have a really bad accident so I had an excuse for how I was,” she remembers.

By her final year at primary school Milly had physical manifestations of the intense stress and anxiety she had been enduring.

“I was taken to hospital three times—supposedly with heat stroke,” she says. “The third time I was referred to the Royal Children’s Hospital where they correctly diagnosed I had trauma-related symptoms.”

That’s when things began to change for Milly. But the bullying had been going on for such a long period, the effects didn’t just dissolve.

She developed what was called a ‘trauma stutter’ in Year 7 which thankfully only lasted for a few months.

“One interesting thing about the stutter,” she recalls, “was that when I sang I didn’t stutter, so I would often sing when I really wanted to say something quickly.”

Milly is only able to talk about her experiences now because she has worked so hard to heal from them. Journalling has been an important part of the process.

“I had to develop confidence in my own wisdom and I still have to be careful not to second-guess myself,” she says. “If I could give advice to anyone being bullied I’d say ‘tell an adult you can trust straight away—not just a friend because they can’t really do anything about changing the situation’.”

“If I could go back and talk to my little six-year-old self I’d say ‘speak to Mum and Dad, don’t keep it to yourself… and pick a new set of friends’.”