Program helps Indigenous student become first in family to graduate high school – ABC News
Finishing the HSC was the last thing on Stevie Dixon’s mind as a 15-year-old at the beginning of 2020.
“I’d been going through a lot at home,” she said.
“I did not want to be at school.”
No one in her family had ever finished school, but that was all about to change.
The following year, the Wangkumarra woman joined the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) at Dubbo’s Senior College campus.
Last year, she became the first person in her family to graduate from year 12.
“I had lot of self-doubt about myself and I was very insecure,” Ms Dixon said.
“I didn’t think that I would ever amount to anything or be anything.
“But once I joined NASCA, they helped me realise my worth and things like that, how far I could go and the things that I was capable of.”
Inside the academy
First established in 1995, the program now runs in 29 schools across NSW and the NT and has supported 15,000 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
It is focused on helping Indigenous students connect to culture, support their academic achievement, and succeed in school.
NASCA chief executive Alison Bentick said the organisation was 100 per cent Indigenous-led, and 97 per cent of front-facing staff were Indigenous.
“We work with the kids to engage them through their culture and help them complete the school and then transition to either work or further education university,” she said.
Success in record numbers
Dubbo Senior College routinely has the highest number of Indigenous HSC graduates in NSW.
Last year it had a total of 71 First Nations students graduate, which was a record for the state.
Dubbo Senior College NASCAR team leader Tracey Piggot, who was Ms Dixon’s mentor, said all the girls she worked with were special.
“But Stevie’s just got a beautiful, beautiful attitude [and] a beautiful outlook on life,” she said.
“Considering where she was back in 2020 when she first came to school, she’s certainly blossomed and grown into a very mature young beautiful woman.”
Ms Dixon has since found a job in the aged care sector and continues to be supported by the program.
“I never thought I’d be here, it’s the best thing to happen to me,” she said.
“I love my job and I can’t thank Tracey and the NASCA program enough.
“I am so proud, I recommend the program to everyone now.”