Gwendolon

Before attending Berengarra, I was in a pretty bad situation: my family was destitute, and I was borderline homeless, as my mother (I am from a single parent family) had severe, untreated depression and a chronic illness and could not support me. Instead of going to school, where I was bullied intensely by other students and teachers, I did my best to look after my mum and the house, to no success and at the expense of 3 years of my education. I attended only 3 days of Year 8 in 1998: later in that year, I was referred to Berengarra.

I changed dramatically by attending Berengarra: I’m sure I couldn’t be where I am today if I had not gone there. I began at the school as a very damaged, very troubled girl and left with the makings of the confident woman I am today.

After graduating Berengarra at the end of 1999, I went back into mainstream schooling at Year 10 level. I remember thinking about my old English teacher at Berengarra as I wrote my first essay at the school – I got a B for it, and have since then gone on to receive an overall High Distinction for Literature at university. I run a successful university club, have been accepted into Golden Key (an international honours society) and have recently been short-listed for an Equity Scholarship in education and Arts. I hope to teach special needs children when I graduate.

In my life, I’ve had to overcome many things: poverty, depression, chronic illness and social stigma. The year and a half I spent at Berengarra was the start of something better – looking back, the school crest – a young phoenix – comes to mind. In it, I see myself.