Senior Level - Outstanding Achievement Award recipient
VCAL Provider - Cranbourne East Secondary College
Firstly, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to our land, waters and culture. I'd like us to pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
Good Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, teachers and VCAL Students, present and former. My name is Ashlee Fisher and I graduated from Cranbourne East Secondary College last year. I’d like to welcome you all to this year’s VCAL Achievement Awards and thank you for acknowledging our achievements in our VCAL journey. I’d like to give a big congratulations to all the winners of this year’s awards and congratulate those who were nominated.
I never thought I’d be in this position – accepting a state-wide award. Being asked to speak here made me panic, because I always believed that I was never a good public speaker, but my teachers convinced me otherwise, thus here I am. Speaking here not only scares me but also excites me as I now have the chance to hopefully somewhat inspire you and motivate others.
When I was in Year 7, I was a very insecure student, I thought my work was never satisfactory, I thought everyone hated me because I was bullied, and my self-esteem and confidence was at an all time low. This continuously happened all through out my high school years, my mental health was deteriorating and I couldn’t get out of the bubble I was in. Year 8 was a year where I felt I wasn’t good enough for things I was doing, Year 9 I remember telling my teachers that I couldn’t do a project because I didn’t think I’d be able to complete it to a satisfactory level and I thought my mental health would become more affected if the outcome of that project wasn’t good. Year 10 was another breaking point for me, I didn’t complete homework, I didn’t complete assessment tasks to the best of my abilities, I had lost all hope in my education.
Until I got to Year 11 where we were offered three pathways – VCE, VCE with a VET Course and VCAL. At first, I thought about doing VCE with the VET Subject, seeing as I had no clue what I wanted to do when I finished school, but after serious consideration, I decided against doing VCE as I knew it wouldn’t be the best decision for me in the long run. VCAL has introduced me to more pathways I didn’t realise I’d be interested in. During my first year of VCAL in Year 11, I still believed that my work would never be satisfactory enough to pass, my commitment to work placement and TAFE would falter and I wouldn’t get my Intermediate certificate, but as I progressed – my teachers continuously encouraged me to do things I wouldn’t normally do to get me out of my comfort zone, such as visiting the primary school next door with other students to read to the preps, and going to the retirement village to write memoirs on the lives of the residents there in Year 12. I was also given the opportunity to continue doing what I loved to do, which is perform, and getting outcomes while doing so.
Year 12 was one of my best years at Cranbourne East Secondary College, I was the first VCAL student to get a role on the School Captains leadership team as Vice-Captain. I was able to do the production of that year, getting a supporting role. VCAL supported all my decisions, whether it be to discuss whether or not I wanted to continue the VET course I was doing previously, do another course or help me with what I needed to do in my personal life. VCAL and my teachers supported me educationally and emotionally and I thank them immensely.
VCAL is an important pathway for me, I believe that it’s a successful one no matter where you look at it. You’ll be going to TAFE and getting a certificate, getting work placement and possibly getting an apprenticeship while doing so. You have a lot more experience to put on your resume – to hopefully get a job much more easily.
I’d like to thank my family, for putting up with me when I was at my lowest point, you’ve encouraged me to stay positive and do the best in life. You guys have brought me much joy in my life, and I could never thank you enough.
I’d like to thank all the teachers I’ve had in my life – especially the ones who supported me in my senior years at secondary college, you’ve put up with my tears, my laughter and my self-deprecation. You have all inspired me to finally find the best things in life and support me in all my decisions. You all gave me the courage I needed to finally speak out and have the confidence in myself to let my voice be heard.
And finally, thank you to the VCAA team for allowing me to accept this incredible award. I am honestly very honoured to be receiving a state-wide award. This is the one of the first times I have been proud of myself, and I have you guys to thank.
Again, I’d like to say congratulations to all the award winners and nominees in this ceremony, thank you to all those who came today to support your child, student or friend. Your support brings confidence to them and it means more to them than they could put into words.