Year 12 student, Emily Mansfield, is an Aboriginal woman whose heritage lies with the Ngarrindjeri people.

Ngarrindjeri Country incorporates the beautiful Coorong—a lush and beautiful area around the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia.

“I didn’t find out we had this amazing connection until I was around 12 years old,” Emily remembers. “I felt good about it, but at first didn’t realise what it truly meant. My dad has always told my sister and me to wear our heritage with pride.

“I’ve never been treated badly because I’m an Aboriginal person and I love being on Country when we visit.”

This year, Emily’s life revolves around school and her part-time job as a waitress at GPO. The word that comes to mind when she thinks about BSSC is ‘wonderful’

“There have been times when I’ve struggled with school,” she admits. “Whenever I reach out to my teachers they all make me feel very included and supported.”

Emily studied Unit 3/4 Biology in Year 11 and was grateful for the way her teacher Vanessa welcomed her into the Year 12 class.

“My classics teacher, Ian, has also really believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself,” she says.

Emily has made some real ‘keepers’ of friends with who she hopes to stay connected even after they all leave BSSC.

“My friends are one of the motivators that helps me get to school some days,” she says.

Emily names these friends, alongside her family, as what she is most grateful for.

“When we were younger my sister and I used to fight quite a bit,” she says. “As we’re maturing, I’m appreciating her more and more … though we do still argue at times!”

Emily admits that one of her biggest challenges is actually getting to school.

“I’m terrible for sleeping through my alarm,” she says. “If I get a bad grade, or feel I’m struggling, I often get stuck and can’t motivate myself to show up.”

She says the period after the holidays are particularly hard times for her and she easily becomes quite demotivated.

Homework and study are also a real challenge.

To help with this, Emily has discovered playing music and having some snacks on her desk at home motivates her get into it.

Still unsure about what she will pursue in the future, Emily is keeping her mind and her options open.

Food Studies is one subject where she’s building skills that may serve her in future. She currently works part-time as a waitress at GPO and has signed up for a traineeship through TAFE so she can commence a Cert III in Hospitality.

Another option she’s considering is working as a legal assistant because she really enjoys Legal Studies.

“There are just too many options for someone as indecisive as me,” she says with a smile.

One decision that wasn’t hard was joining the Student Leadership Team (SLT) which she has been part of for both her years at BSSC.

“I particularly love the sense of community and how welcoming Kendall and the other students have been,” she says. “When I applied for the Vice-President position, I honestly looked at the other people who’d put their hands up and thought I had no chance.

“It was big deal for me to put myself out there and something I still feel proud of.”

Emily also recently applied for a modelling session with a significant prize attached.

“I didn’t win the prize, but they contacted me later and I have signed with an agency,” she says. “I hope to do some TV commercials or small parts in TV shows.”

Emily has a beloved dog who she describes as a “great friend”.  

“There’s nothing like a dog’s welcome when you get home,” she says.

If Emily could go back in time and offer some advice to her younger self, it would be this:   

“Keep trying, even when you don’t really want to. Don’t stop moving forward in life, or at school.”