2021 Do Not Be Afraid To Seize That Opportunity
22 Apr 2021
“Don’t be afraid to seize that opportunity”, says Dr Michele Ziolkowski who has found herself from the school grounds of Catherine McAuley in Westmead to the sand dunes and date palm gardens of The United Arab Emirates. “The worst someone can say is ‘no’ and when someone tells me ‘no’, that it can’t be done, it only makes me more determined to succeed”, she says.
Dr Michele Ziolkowski attended Catherine McAuley from 1982 to 1985. Her year was the first year who had the opportunity to stay at McAuley for Years 11 and 12 however Michele left to attend Oakhill College for those final two years. Her path since leaving school has been varied and is a reminder to students that there are many pathways to a career!
After completing school Michele studied graphic design and photography at Western Sydney University (then known as Nepean College) however decided this was not for her and left before completing the course to become a photographer’s assistant. Michele also set up her own photography small business for a time taking rock ‘n’ roll photos of musicians and bands in Sydney. In 1991 she decided to go back to university and graduated with a double major in Fine Arts and Archaeology from The University of Sydney. She then went on to complete her Honours thesis in Archaeology, after taking a year to also complete a postgraduate Diploma in information Management - Librarianship at UNSW.
It was while completing her Honours thesis that Michele found herself in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates as her chosen topic was the study of a rock art site located there. Her archaeology professor loaned her a 4WD to use and for a month she worked alone on a remote mountain site recording and studying rock art. Michele loved that this gave her the opportunity to combine her knowledge of art and archaeology and describes it as an incredible experience!
After gaining her first class honours Michele was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award to work on her PhD which involved a coastal survey of Islamic period sites in Fujairah and directing excavations at a 17th century Portuguese fort.
Since then Michele has kept extremely busy and is the author of several children’s books which have a focus on history, archeology and the culture of the UAE. Her first book, ‘The Boy Who Knew The Mountains’, was awarded by the Sharjah Book Authority for ‘Best Children’s Book in English’. Her other books include ‘Suhail’s Abu Dhabi Adventure’, ‘Little Camel’, ‘Heiko the Hippo’ and a forthcoming title ‘The Journey Home’. Michele has also authored and edited numerous academic publications including the monograph ‘Fujairah’s Date Palm Gardens: A Preliminary Survey’ and is currently working with a feature filmmaker on adapting ‘The Boy Who Knew The Mountains’ into a full-length movie. And if this is not enough Michele is also the co-founder of a not for profit organisation, GOALS UAE, which aims to promote autism awareness and provide extra-curricular activities for children on the autism spectrum. Michelle has an autistic son who was also her inspiration for the children’s stories she has written.
“I enjoyed art classes with Ms Fernandes as she taught us various artistic techniques and encouraged us to be creative. Ms Banting was the most incredible English teacher I have ever had as she brought Shakespeare alive for us as students, taught grammar in a way that made it interesting and as an avid reader fuelled my interest in reading more diverse genres”.
“For me everything started when I asked a university professor if he needed a photographer for his next archaeological field season in UAE and it just so happened that he did and the rest is history. What I learned is that it is OK to step outside of your comfort zone. I would advise students that sometimes taking a chance can be a rewarding and positive experience. Don’t be afraid to seize that opportunity!”.
02 Dec 2022
Well done to the Year 8 students who have been acting as reading tutors this year to Mother Teresa Primary School students. 📚📚 Every Thursday morning the reading tutors have been working with their reading buddy and have been enthusiastic and encouraging with the younger students. The McAuley students presented their reading buddies with a certificate and small gift bag yesterday and the primary school presented the Year 8 students with a certificate of their own. Well done to all involved and keep reading! 😀 Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
02 Dec 2022
AROUND THE CLASSROOMS ➡ The Year 10 Global Connections class have been exploring different South East Asian countries this term in their ‘Australian Neighbours’ Unit. 🇻🇳 🇮🇩 🇹🇴 🇵🇭 Year 10 Media Team Student Angel explains: “This research has led to a mini project that showcases aspects of our chosen countries such as climate, topography, native animals and location. This has helped the class gain a better understanding of these countries. The students also created an oral presentation, using visual aids such as physical posters, and we presented this to the whole class”.
30 Nov 2022
PERFORMING ARTS MINI SHOWCASE 🤩🤩 A wonderful afternoon today as the school gathered for the Performing Arts Mini Showcase! Performances from Drama, Dance and Music students. Well done to all involved!!
30 Nov 2022
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Catherine McAuley students are embracing the Christmas spirit with students donating to both the JRS Christmas Appeal and the Vinnies Christmas Appeal, whilst also decorating the trees in Mercy Square in Christmas House colours.
30 Nov 2022
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 🎄🎄🎄 House Leaders and Assistant Leaders have been decorating the trees in Mercy Square in their House colours. Mercy Square is looking very festive!
30 Nov 2022
Year 10 History students spent the day on Friday last week exploring the Vietnam War period in Australia whilst Year 10 Geography students spent the day studying the erosion and management strategies of Collaroy and Narrabeen beaches.
29 Nov 2022
Year 10 History students spent Friday last week exploring the Vietnam War period in Australia. Students were fortunate to be able to listen to Ms Tang, Catherine McAuley teacher, who told the students the story of her mother, who came to Australia as a refugee after the Vietnam War. The students then watched an Anh Do documentary and answered reflection questions on the experiences of refugees who fled to Australia after the war. The History students finished their day listening to Mr Brett Hunt, a theatre in education performer, who shared the experiences of his father Frankie, and other veterans, who inspired the song ‘I Was Only 19’ by Redgum.
29 Nov 2022
Year 10 Geography students spent last Friday at Collaroy and Narrabeen beaches investigating the current management strategies by the Northern Beaches Council. ⛱⛱ Collaroy Beach has received much attention over the past few years due to the beach erosion and the students examined in detail the biophysical and atmospheric conditions that, combined with development, have contributed to the erosion.
29 Nov 2022
The combined McAuley and Marist school choir have been busy rehearsing each Thursday morning ready for the upcoming Christmas Concert and hopefully a performance at Parramatta Westfield. 😀