Caring. Ambitious. A role model. These are the words Shontae, a 13 year-old student from Swan View Senior High School uses to describe herself.
Shontae is a seemingly everyday girl but when you look a little closer, you can glimpse her extraordinary determination and motivation.
In Bayswater, Shontae lives with her Nan, her sister and five cousins and likes to go to the beach and play in her family games nights.
To achieve her goal of one day attending university, she participates in the Follow the Dream: Partnerships for Success and Flourish programs, which are both run through her school.
The programs offer support to Aboriginal students with high aspirations as they commence secondary education, helping to build their self-esteem and general health and wellbeing.
“I signed up to Follow the Dream because I wanted to do better in class,” Shontae said.
“The program is really good, it helps me to get better grades by helping with homework and also giving career advice.”
This year Shontae was accelerated into the academic extension class based on her recent progress.
“I’m so proud of moving to the ACE class. My family is also very happy. I put a lot of work in so being recognised for this was special for me.”
Having attended every single class, activity and excursion available on the program, Shontae’s commitment is clear to all.
“I think it’s important to work hard and go to school every day,” Shontae said.
“That way you can be more aware of the work you have to do, you can be more prepared for tests, and also for life.”
“I travel a long way each day to and from school. I don’t live very close at all!
“I have to get up at 5am, walk for 20 minutes to the train station and then I have to get a bus. I usually get to school at around 8am. And then of course after school I go to Follow the Dream. It’s a long day for me but I go to bed early sometimes. I don’t mind. I like school because I like the people there.”
In addition to her own busy schedule, Shontae is an inspiration to others, acting as a strong role model for other young people within the program, school and in the broader community.
“I like to help other kids. If they don’t understand the work, you can explain how you would go about it. We are a family here. It’s good to help. I just feel so lucky to get so much support from all the staff and students from Follow the Dream and Flourish.”
Although Shontae has experienced some very tough times in her life, she continues to set goals and works hard to achieve them.
“I want to be a photographer when I’m older. I was given an old camera by one of my tutors, and now I can take lots of photos to practise.”
Shontae takes pride in living her mantra each day: “Never give up on your life dreams”.