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Our 2015 essay competition winners are being mentored by trained university students through a collaboration with Raising Hope Education Foundation. These phenomenal mentors, listed below, will help the winners build their leadership skills, consider their future career paths, and articulate their goals through six online mentorship sessions. This will ensure that the winning girls remain supported after Country to Canberra’s Power Trip to achieve their leadership goals.

Country to Canberra/Raising Hope Mentors:

Maddison Perkins

What degree are you studying? Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy, Economics/ Juris Doctor

Originally from? Blayney, NSW

Tell us a bit about yourself! Before moving to Canberra to begin university in 2015 I lived in the same small country town of Blayney my whole life. I spent most of my time in Blayney getting involved with as much extracurricular stuff as I could; dance, soccer, debating, public speaking, UN Youth, SRC and volunteering. I wanted to get involved with Country to Canberra to share my experience of moving from a small town to a city because even though these activities got me to meet people from Sydney and Canberra I still found the move a bigger change than I anticipated.

What are you passionate about? People! Human Rights to be more specific. I believe everyone has the right to be who they are regardless of differences in race, gender, religion, or sexuality. I also am very passionate about the access of education being available to all people because it is through education that people become more understanding and empathetic towards others beliefs and differences. 

What advice do you think is important for young people? It’s good to compare yourself to others for a little bit of motivation and healthy competition. However, you should not value your achievements and abilities based of other peoples success. You may not have topped the class or won a competition but should still be proud of your work and achievements as long as you give it your all.  

 Nishadee Perera

What degree are you studying? Arts(International Relations, French)/Law

Originally from? Galle, Sri Lanka (but have lived in Canberra for most of my life)

Tell us a bit bout yourself! Hi, I’m Nish. I’m an Arts/Law Student who grew up in Canberra as a first generation Australian. I love what I study, but I also love volunteering in the education and migration sphere. That being said, I also really enjoy procrasti-baking, or my latest obsession, watching cooking videos on YouTube…

What are you passionate about? Education and Migration (and how the two work together)

What advice do you think is important for young people? Do what you enjoy, work hard at it and pursue that passion fearlessly. It is okay to change your mind about that passion, and it is also okay to take time to figure out what that passion is.

As a young person we often have people telling us what is best, whether it be for employment, happiness and just life in general. But considering how the world is changing, individuals (as opposed to nations and corporations) are having more and more influence. Young people can be an instrumental part of that change, and we will be the ones faces with the opportunities and challenges these changes bring.

Katharine Crompton

What degree are you studying? Bachelor International Relations/Bachelor European Studies

Originally from? Grafton, NSW

Tell us about yourself! Having grown up in rural NSW, I think I’ll always be a country girl at heart. Since leaving home, I have been privileged to have many amazing experiences such as travelling through Europe, watching as many musicals as possible in London and meeting many incredible people at university. I’m interested in Country to Canberra because having grown up in a rural area I am aware of opportunities that are often not received by students purely for the reason that they are in a rural area. Helping people is something I have always loved, and helping people find new opportunities is particularly exciting.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about musicals, reading, cycling and I also really enjoy helping people in a variety of different ways.

What advice do you think is important for young people? I think it is important for young people to put themselves out of their comfort zones and try lots of different things. Doing this you learn so much about life, people and yourself.

Elena Pleass

What degree are you studying? Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Finance

Originally from? Sunshine Coast, QLD

Tell us about about yourself! I grew up in Fiji and completed high school in Queensland. I absolutely loved high school and I suppose one of the best parts was the opportunity I was given to be involved in community service work in Australia and overseas. I had always had a desire to move interstate for university and while a daunting prospect, it turns out this decision was the best I have ever made. My life at ANU involves so much more than academics and has so far been a really formative experience.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my university studies and applying myself completely to my chosen fields. University has provided me with the chance to develop a genuine interest and engagement which I had previously struggled to find.

What advice do you think is important for young people? I think the most important advice I have been given and believe is applicable for all young people is to maintain balance. While it is important to retain focus and ambition, at the end of the day friendships, family and happiness contribute immensely towards our personal development and are of key importance.

Annabelle Klimt

What degree are you studying? Bachelor of Arts/Laws – English Major, Film Minor

Originally from? Sydney

Tell us about yourself! My name is Annabelle, but my friends call me “Anne”. They do it in a teasing way, because they think it is quite a dated name, and I’m anything but. I grew up in Sydney, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the country – I’m often found looking longingly out the window at the paddocks and horses on the drive from Sydney to Canberra. I am a typical social, bubbly 20 year-old, so any opportunity to meet and connect with a diverse group of people is an extremely exciting prospect, which is why I’m so keen to be involved in the Country to Canberra initiative.

What are you passionate about? Fundamentally I am passionate about people, and helping people reach their full potential. This broad concern is reflected in my interest in mental health, indigenous rights and gender equality. In particular I am passionate about helping to create equal opportunity for women in the professional sphere – particularly in Law, where females make up 63% of the legal graduates (Graduate Careers Australia) and only 19% of senior positions in law firms (Law Council of Australia). 

What advice do you think is important for young people? Young people should focus on learning and seizing as many opportunities as possible. I believe that educational opportunities of all fields – academic, social and cultural – are extremely important for creating diverse, enriched and productive youth that are capable of advancing Australia’s future.

Isla Tobin

What degree are you studying? Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws

Originally from? Ballarat, Victoria

Tell us about yourself! I’m Isla, and I’m interested in being a part of Country to Canberra because going from living in the country to Canberra has been exactly what I’ve done! I think it is important for regional girls to understand that where you happen to have grown up or gone to school should never be a barrier to pursuing the further education or future that you would like! I love spending time with and talking to and having a laugh with others and I can’t wait to meet you.

What are you passionate about? Education and opportunities to learn for all, learning other languages (I love learning French at uni!), standing up for the rights of others and equal opportunities.

What advice do you think is important for young people? No dream is too small as long as you have a plan to achieve it!

Nicola Rorke

What degree are you studying? Commerce

Originally from? The Northern Beaches of Sydney

Tell us a bit about yourself! I’m a 20-year-old girl (definitely not yet a woman) from Freshie studying commerce at ANU. I was always quite brainy in school and exceeded expectations in most of my classes. But then, in year 11, I moved to a selective high school where I was rudely shocked to find that I was one among many kids as bright and brighter than me. I was so intimidated I let it get the better of me in year 12 and I felt extremely lost as to who I was because I always thought I was the characteristically smart one.

I’m still figuring out the big questions e.g. what do I want to do, what do I enjoy most, what are my strengths. Figuring these things out is really frustrating but I think it’s okay to be unsure about your life, it just means that you’re being conscientious and (get ready to vomit, I didn’t know how else to say this) you’re embracing the journey.

I finished school in 2013 and took a gap year because I always knew I would go to university but I needed (like, actually, needed) a break from study because of the mental deterioration I suffered during the HSC. So I worked at a plumbing store for a year – I hadn’t foreseen such circumstances for myself but there you go – and I honestly had one of the best years ever.

I’m keen to be involved in Country to Canberra because I thinks it’s a very helpful initiative for girls that want to succeed, whether they are sure of what they want out of life or not. I think all girls have the ability within them to achieve whatever their goals may be, but, of course, there are always obstacles (e.g. indecisiveness, geographical location etc.) and it’s always good to get a bit of help.

What advice do you think is important for young people? Understand the gravity of the situation, sometimes you might think something is of lesser or greater importance than it really is and that can be rather troublesome. Also you cannot be anyone by yourself. As long as you not harming anyone embrace what you’ve got going on because you’ll enjoy life so much more.

What are you passionate about? Progressing towards a world where people are inherently respectful and empathetic towards other individuals. In conjunction, I have strong passion for helping people with disabilities and mental illness; I think the stigma surrounding both is something that can be eliminated in the future.