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Scholarship scoop ‘out of this world’

Written by Zilla Gordon. Posted in Featured News, News, Timeline

Saakshi (far left) during Relay for Life

Saakshi Dhakal credits St Mary’s College’s sense of community after receiving four scholarships to Australian National University (ANU).

The Year 12 student said she chose to continue at the College for her final years of Senior School because ‘St Mary’s is like a second home’.

‘From all the events I’ve been involved in – from debating to rowing – the community aspect has played a vital part in my school-life.

‘I’ve learnt the important of activism, social justice and community service,’ Saakshi said.

Also passionate about science, Saakshi was drawn to ANU’s ‘flexible double’ study option which ‘allows students to study two undergraduate degrees at the same time and graduate with two qualifications’.

‘I really wanted to do a Bachelor of Economics, and do a science degree as well,’ Saakshi said.

‘At ANU I could put those degrees together.’

With the journey from Hobart to ANU’s campus in Canberra a big – and expensive – move, Saakshi, with some help from VET and Carers Coordinator Angela Mitchelmore, decided to apply for scholarships.

Her hard work paid off when she was award four scholarship – Australian Excellence Scholarship (awarded to three people in each state or territory), the College of Business and Economics Regional and Rural Relocation Scholarship (offered to 10 people nation-wide), the Allrounder Scholarship (awarded to 50 people in Australia), and the St Mary’s College Scholarship which was established in 2018 by College alumni.

When she was given multiple scholarship for her academic achievements, Saakshi had to then mark the hard decision – which ones to take.

‘I’ve accepted the Australian Excellence and Regional and Rural Relocation scholarships,’

‘It means that all my accommodation is covered – so I only have to worry about my HECS debt,’ she said.

With her hopes set on a job as an astrophysicist at Australia’s space agency, the sky’s no limit for Saakshi.

College in full bloom

Written by Zilla Gordon. Posted in Featured News, News, Timeline

The sandstone façade of St Mary’s College’s Convent building has been bathed in yellow by a digital projection to mark Cancer Council Tasmania’s Daffodil Day.

This projection, which displays daffodils swaying across the building, is the second artwork since the introduction of the technology late last year.

Cancer Council Tasmanian CEO Penny Egan paid tribute to the students of St Mary’s College for their contribution on Daffodil Day.

“It’s wonderful to have young people involved in raising awareness about cancer and cancer prevention,” Mrs Egan said.

“Every Tasmanian has a cancer story, therefore many St Marys’ students would have experienced this through their own families or their friends’ families.

“Cancer Council Tasmania really appreciates the support of the school.”

St Mary’s College alumna, cancer researcher and PhD candidate Kelsie Raspin said days like Daffodil Day raise awareness of cancer research.

“I have been working with five Tasmania families and have identified four inherited mutations that are significantly associated with risk of developing prostate cancer in Tasmania.

“A future outcome of my research could be that men with a family history may be screened for the inherited mutation/s at a young age to determine their risk of prostate cancer,” she said.

St Mary’s College Principal Helen Spencer said the College introduced the cutting-edge video-performance software as a tool for collaborative artmaking.

“We have a wonderful backdrop,” she said.

“The Convent is already an eye-catching building and provides the perfect stage to raise awareness for days like Daffodil Day.

“With the Convent now more than 150 years old, there is a lovely juxtaposition between the contemporary artworks and the sandstone building.

“The architect, Henry Hunter, would be astonished,” she said.

Ms Spencer said the College has enjoyed the creative process that comes with the projections – the previous two projects saw students and staff working together and acquire new technology-based skills.

Last year, as part of its 150-year anniversary celebrations, students collaborated with renowned Tasmanian digital artist Cary Littleford on a digital projection that encapsulated the College’s past, present and future.

This technology is still largely unheard-of, with Mr Littleford saying projection art is a relatively new concept in Tasmania.

“St Mary’s College has broken new ground by creating artistic video projections on such a large scale.”

The College will be lit-up again by a digital projection in November for Remembrance Day.

On Country – an all-women’s Aboriginal experience

Written by Zilla Gordon. Posted in Featured News, News, Timeline

Our First Nations peoples have lived and thrived on the land of Australia for thousands of generations, passing down traditional practices, words, knowledge and culture for tens of thousands of years. With the colonisation of Australia, some of this knowledge and skill has been lost to time, but some has survived to the present day, where our Aboriginal people continue on the sacred traditions as a way to connect with the land, pass down the knowledge to future generations, and to ensure the survival and flourishing of our communities.

On 31 July 2019, a group of eight St Mary’s girls piled onto a small bus, along with Miss Raward, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Perspectives Officer, and Traci-Jean Berresford, College Receptionist (and mum to one of the girls), ready for a long but incredible day. First off, we headed north-east of Hobart, where we were met by Sharnie Read, a Tasmanian Aboriginal woman and mum to a St Mary’s Junior School girl, to gather on the riverbank and understand more about ochre, specifically pulawini, ‘red ochre’. Using sticks found on the nearby shoreline, we collected some ochre by digging it out and scraping it into bags. We learnt that, when mixed with wallaby blood and belly fat, the ochre becomes a ‘paint’, waterproof and sun-blocking (but also skin-staining!). After collecting the ochre, we all loaded back onto the bus, where we travelled over 40 minutes to Orford.

With the sun on our faces and wind freezing our fingers, we made our way down to the beach, where we were shown by Sharnie how to find marieener shells – the shells traditionally used in Tasmanian Aboriginal shell necklaces. Sparkling with an emerald sheen, the shells are distinctive; however, they are only about the length of a fingernail. So, down we crouched, some of us barefoot, others lying on our stomachs, a few sitting on the relatively dry rocks, and a couple of us wading into the water and losing feeling in our toes. After a while, we all got the hang of it. Everyone found some shells each, and Bellah even found a king marieener! We spent a few hours on the rocks, digging and searching. After freezing off all of our fingers and toes, we put our shoes and trackies back on, and we went to the park, where we ate lunch and reflected on what it means to be an Aboriginal woman.

This experience was huge for many of us, with it being the first of its kind that most of us had participated in. Connecting with each other, being on country, and bonding as Aboriginal young women was amazing. We discussed what our heritage meant to us, and how being an Aboriginal woman affects our everyday lives. All in all, it was an opportunity that we all greatly appreciate and are forever grateful for, no matter how cold it was. Our culture is kept alive through our participation in these traditional practices as present-day Aboriginal women, and by experiencing a day such as this one, our culture has been passed on. We can only hope that our children and grandchildren will be just as proud of their Aboriginal heritage, and that the traditional practices of our people are never forgotten.

By Caitlin Marr
(Year 9)

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