Awarded effort: Leader of the well-being and Koorie engagement teams Shirlene Laurie, Ballarat High School student Latoya Gadd and principal Gary Palmer at the school’s front gates. Photo: RUBY STALEY

High regard for top student

April 8, 2021 BY

ONE of Ballarat’s brightest students has been recognised by the Victorian Government through its Marrung Education Scholarships program.

As part of the initiative, Ballarat High School year 11 student Latoya Gadd was one of 20 Victorian top learners to received up to $5000 in funding to support her VCE studies.

“I was ecstatic, it took a pretty long time to find out, when I got through to the second group, I was already so happy and thought even if I don’t get it, I would’ve been happy with that,” Latoya said.

“Now mum doesn’t really have to think about it because she has a bit on her plate and I bought a laptop this year with the funds, heap of textbooks, writing books, my school fees and then some for a camp at the end of the year.

“I love people, I always want to meet new people and become more involved in my Indigenous community and while it’s nice to be recognised, it’s not the most important thing, the best thing is to get involved and help other people.”

In addition to her studies, Latoya is committed to her community exemplified through her work with the school’s Koorie Engagement Group, involvement in NAIDOC Week and participation in the Western Bulldogs Leadership program and Energy Breakthrough environmental project.

“She has a lot of community involvement, she’s a pretty amazing young person,” Ballarat High School’s leader of the well-being and Koori engagement teams Shirlene Laurie said.

“Latoya was the only one at school this year who applied but we have around four Indigenous students in year 10 now who can apply next year.

“We’ve had three successful applicants here over the time that I’ve been here and the first two both finished their year 12 VCE.”

Recognising the students with high potentials who have a clear commitment to their school work, the Marrung Education Scholarship also encourages applicants to showcase a dedicated involvement in their Aboriginal communities.

“The Marrung Scholarship Program is about creating more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to reach their full potential in whichever career pathway they choose,” Member for Wendoureee Juliana Addison said.

“Like many students, Latoya has shown remarkable resilience to maintain focus and commitment during the difficult year that was 2020.

“I know that this resilience will hold her in good stead for the final two years of school and I look forward to hearing about her future achievements.”