Reflecting back over the last six years, BSSC Year 12 student, Rebecca Ritchie, sees how much her self-confidence has grown as she’s learnt to embrace opportunities.

Rebecca has developed the courage to abandon comfortable, but unhelpful, assumptions about new situations being too hard.

She wishes she’d been less fearful and more open-minded as she moved from Strathfieldsaye Primary to Bendigo South East College.

“I didn’t think I was being closed-minded at the time,” she says, “but that transition was so hard because I’d already decided I didn’t want to change schools.”

Stuck with this negative attitude, Year 7 was never going to become a fun experience. It took virtually all year for Rebecca to slowly change her feelings about her new college.

Then, in Year 8, she met two girls who were to become her closest friends—Anna and Shae.

“I’m so grateful they came into my life! They were so positive and having a great time at BSE.”

Rebecca started looking forward to seeing Shae and Anna every day and it changed her whole approach to school.

“If I could go back and give myself some advice, I’d say: ‘Be more open-minded’.”

Meanwhile, as she approached VCE, Rebecca embraced the lessons of the past and arrived at BSSC with an open and optimistic attitude.

Still, the first day of Year 11 was pretty daunting.

“I remember meeting Anna and some other friends that first morning.

“My first class was Chemistry and I was worried the subject would be too hard for me. But I ended up really appreciating Dave, our teacher, and enjoying the class.

“I actually enjoyed BSSC from the very start because the classwork was so interesting and I made new friends in classes where I didn’t know anyone.

“The teachers also went out of their way to make our transition smooth.”

Rebecca had already completed Psychology 1/2 in Year 10 and really enjoyed her 3/4 Psychology class with Kylie Hand.

“I actually miss it—the class, Kylie and the subject. I felt ‘seen’ and everyone in the class was so well supported.”

Positive experiences such as these—and Nadege who made both English and Advisor fun last year—helped Rebecca quickly feel at home at the college.

“This year I’m doing Chemistry, Biology, Maths Methods, General Maths and English Language, and really enjoying everything.

“The subjects are hard, and you do need to be organised, but it’s VCE: you expect that. If I had to do Humanities or Art—well, that would be really hard for me,” she says with a laugh.

She’s pleased to have Dave again for Chemistry and appreciating extra tutoring in Maths.

“I can already tell Megan, my Biology teacher, is amazing.”

“In fact, all my BSSC teachers have all been so good at teaching and engaging students.

“The word I associate with the college is ‘flexible’ because there are so many classes to choose from and extra support such as maths boot camp and master classes.”

Rebecca’s study style is to find a quiet place and study alone. She works through practice questions that help her cement maths concepts into her brain and says towards the end of the year she will access old exams too.

“When I’m doing maths I like to listen to music—often Taylor Swift—but not when I’m working on other subjects.

“I think it’s because I’m looking at numbers and somehow the song lyrics don’t distract me.”

Rebecca mostly uses her frees to get homework done or to catch up with teachers when she needs extra help.

“But, if you really need a break, you can take one.”

“I love learning,” she says. “It’s so interesting and feels very productive. I actually think I’d get bored if I took a gap year—so I’m planning to head straight to uni next year.”

Rebecca’s long-term goal is to work in the science field—she’s interested in the research side of Biomedicine and would like to start her studies locally if possible.

She believes it’s also very important to have people around you who are easy to talk to and appreciates great support and encouragement from family and friends.

Like many students, the antics of the family pets are also good value. Rebecca’s family have two cats and two dogs—well, two dogs and one cat that like people and one cat that is highly suspicious of humans!

She’s wondered about taking on some part-time work but decided to wait till Year 12 is well underway and she’s in a good routine.

Despite her insistence she dislikes Humanities and Art, Rebecca is a keen reader and loves to crochet.

She describes her favourite book ‘The Forgetting’, written by Sharon Cameron, as “a brilliant balance between mystery, romance and adventure”.

With regards to crocheting, Rebecca learnt by watching Youtube videos. Although she insists she’s not that skilled, the items she makes are in fact useful and beautiful.

“The experience of learning to crochet was a great lesson in sticking with something that seemed almost impossible at the start.”