Execs in focus: Natalie Elizabeth
VicSRC is run by a group of 15 students from across the state, who make up our Exec team. But who are they? Just like you, they are powerful voices. Meet our Exec and find out what makes them tick in our latest #VicSRCvoices series.
Next up: 17 year old Natalie Elizabeth from Northern College of the Arts and Technology.
For someone still in school, the phrase ‘wise beyond her years’ sits particularly well on Natalie Elizabeth’s shoulders.
“I was at the Metro North Regional Conference in April,” recalls 17 year old Nat. “I’d been floating around from group to group and having an animated conversation with one of the teachers about learning styles.”
With the hubbub of conversation bouncing off the walls, both Nat and the teacher got a surprise.
“In the middle of our chat, he asked me how long I’d been teaching!” she says with a laugh.
“We both laughed when I revealed that I was, in fact, still a year 12 student, but we were also kind of stoked. The dynamic between teachers and students is so important, and the fact that we could have an in-depth conversation on an equal level is what the relationship needs to be to get the best out of each other,” Nat enthuses.
The reason this aspiring writer, artist and hat-wearer extraordinaire was at the Metro North Regional Conference is because she was representing VicSRC in her role as an Exec member for 2014-2015. Nat got involved for a number of reasons, but a big factor in putting her hand up was because she believes passionately that every child should have the opportunity to attend school without disadvantage.
“As a child I’ve grown up with the bare necessities, and as a result I was disadvantaged to my peers; sometimes I couldn’t attend camps, nor “optional” excursions which turned out to have a compulsory component to it.,” shares Nat.
“I know this is overly ambitious, but I’d like to rid the educational system of inequality amongst learners. We’re all composed of the same flesh and bones; we’re all born equal - yet some opportunities are denied to us due to variables we cannot control.”
Just this week, The Age published a story about Alicia (not her real name), who’s a 19 year old completing year 11 whilst homeless and living under a bridge in Melbourne. This example of disadvantage in education is what fuels the fire in Nat’s belly – the fact that society and circumstance has found a young person like Alicia in this position is simply not good enough.
“About a quarter of Victorian students and their families are struck by financial hardship, which in turn places a substantial disadvantage on their studies. Accumulatively, the price of education is quite great, when you combine the costs of uniforms, school fees, textbooks, exercise books, stationery, and excursions,” says Nat.
“This places a heavy financial burden on the families of those with less capable means. Ideally, education should be affordable for all learners; yet some are forced to drop out or not attend altogether because it simply isn’t.”
Nat’s in a reflective mood when asked about what real student voice means to her.
“Student voice is comprised of thousands of individuals from varying demographics, who all have myriad ideas and valuable contributions. It is critical that all of our voices are heard,” she says.
Nat is many things; a student, an under-the-radar teacher, a daughter, a friend, an almost-writer, a sometime-creative genius, an aspiring-Beyonce, an Exec member, a passionate advocate for equality in education. At the Metro North Regional Conference, she was one among many who are bound and determined to make equality in education a reality.
“People often underestimate the amount of change they can catalyse. You have the capacity to do so much. Be proactive. Pursue your passions, and without fear! As the adage goes: ‘just do it’.”
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