Good Morning McAuley staff, students, parents and my fellow graduating class of 2021. 

I think we’ve all sat through a fair few of these speeches over the years apart from our new Year 7s, so I will do my best to keep this short and sweet for the benefit of everyone. I’d just like to start off by saying, never in a million years did I think I’d be standing here before you today. There are so many deserving candidates so I feel extremely honoured to be able to speak on behalf of the 2021 cohort and their amazing achievements through two challenging years of senior studies. 

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the whole 2021 cohort on their amazing efforts. While I stand before you as Dux of 2021, there are in fact multiple stories of success of which these graduates have achieved. If someone were to ask me what 2021 was characterised by, I’m sure the Year 12s will agree with me when I say it was not short of blood, sweat and tears. However, Neil deGrasse Tyson, once said, “There is no greater education than one that is self-driven”. It requires you to take charge of your own learning and I believe that’s the most important lesson that I’ve learnt from my senior years. With that in mind, I’d like to dedicate my DUX award to the class of 2021, as it represents our collective effort, for together we made it. 

Now, don’t let my height fool you, I’m here to give you all some big sister McAuley advice that I have learnt through my high school studies. 

Set ACHIEVABLE and REALISTIC goals. The mind is a powerful tool. In no way does this mean strictly intelligence. Rather, it is your mindset and your way of thinking. You may have heard of the saying “vision is everything”, but let me show you the power of that vision. These posted notes and letters are all my goals that I had set for myself. Setting these realistic goals are the key to your individual drive and determination which is especially important in a year consumed by adversity, as if you desire something for yourself, no matter what it is, do everything you can to make it happen.

DO IT ALL! Now, you may not have seen me studying everyday in the library but more likely have seen me getting told to be quiet in the library for chatting with my friends or screaming our house cheers on Wednesday mornings. Don’t sacrifice the things you enjoy. It’s important to maintain a balanced lifestyle as this is where memories are made.

Do NOT compare yourself to others. Personally, this was a great adversity I had to overcome. I’ve learnt that everybody learns differently. So when you feel like you need to stop and rest, do it! You are setting goals for yourself, so study, play and laugh for yourself too. 

Find what works for YOU. Like different definitions of success, each individual student has a different way of studying and retaining information. I know friends who predominantly relied on flashcards as their main source of active recall. On the other hand, I would answer practice questions and look at NESA marking guidelines to note down exactly what I needed to include in order to maximise each mark. In addition, make sure you hand in practice papers so you can use this feedback to improve your responses, re-work it and submit it again. 

Failure is a stepping stone to SUCCESS. Now, let’s be honest, we’ve all received a bad grade at some point. At the risk of not exactly fitting within the stereotype of a DUX, I am not ashamed to say that I also have been a victim of a few poor grades. But those experiences have taught me that you're always gonna have an exam that despite studying for, you are somehow thrown off by it. It’s all about perseverance and that drive and determination after that to keep reaching towards whatever version of success you see for yourself. 

Choose subjects YOU LOVE. I am proof that stereotyped ‘high scaling’ subjects don’t determine your success. Do what you love and do it well. 


Now, moving on to the teachers who are really the backbone of our success. 

First off, Mrs Dowling! I know that all of us really looked forward to coming to class if not for the maths but for you. You truly valued the individual and I believe that’s what made us all want to succeed. You are the epitome of the McAuley value HOSPITALITY, welcoming us into a humble environment where we all feel comfortable to learn. 

I had to bunch all these pillars of teachers together. Mrs Torreson, Miss Brincat, Miss McGlone, Mrs Noud and Mr Grumley. I like to call you my ‘essay’ teachers. Let me tell you, these teachers marked an extensive amount of extended and short answer responses I submitted. To the point that I have no doubt they put my paper at the end of the pile, relieved thinking that there’s 6 more papers to mark before mine, only to be disappointed to find out that at least 5 of those papers were written by me. To all the teachers, I believe you demonstrated the most COURAGE having to deal with a bunch of us year over year but also encouraging us to excel.

Next, an honourable mention to Mrs Kempys, thank you for everything you have done for us since year 7! Your tireless behind the scenes effort to make our high school journey a memorable one has not gone unnoticed, and we are so grateful. 

I cannot end this speech without expressing my gratitude for Mr Foran, I will never forget your commitment and efforts to help everyone strive for EXCELLENCE by marking my papers. Finally, Ms Lee and my Clarinets!! Homeroom would never be the same without you all to liven up each day, I’m missing you guys already!

To my parents. Your unconditional support and belief in me helped me reach my goals. There was not a day when I came home that my parents pressured me to study and I think that’s why I was able to achieve my goals, because I wanted them for myself. To my brother, Ethan, despite being a pain, thank you for saying “it’s okay”. Hearing those words when I came home upset about an exam made me feel a whole lot better. I also couldn’t have done it without the support of my cousins who have probably sat the HSC about five times now, so thank you. 

To conclude, I know we’ve all heard this a countless amount of times but I have to agree that the ATAR is simply a number, and not one person should be defined by a numerical system. The most invaluable asset you can gain from your time at Catherine McAuley are the friendships you develop as well as the life long skills, values and ethics you accumulate along the way. So, more than any rigid number, always remember that the traditional saying “you can take the girl out of McAuley but can’t take McAuley out of the girl” referring to these values of justice, integrity and mercy that make up who you are as a person at the end of your McAuley journey is what truly paves the way to ultimate success in life.           
Thank you.


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