Jamie-Lee with GO Scholar, BrandonWhen GO Scholar Jamie-Lee learned she was to be a 2020 School Captain at Matraville Sports High, it really was a dream come true. “I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling,” she says. “My parents and family were all in the assembly and they were all extremely proud of me. There was no need to make any phone calls!”

Jamie-Lee’s year as School Captain so far has been a bit of a wild ride.  The Class of 2020 has been shadowed by the Rona since March – a curveball that’s required some enterprising leadership from its School Captains with everyone at home for much of the yeart. As well, she and her classmates have the pressure of the HSC.  “Trying to manage my own expectations while we’ve been home schooling has been such a challenge this year, but I’m on track,” she says. “I purchased a laptop with my GO scholarship that allows me to study at school and at home and that’s been such a help, especially as my school is moving to BYOD (bring your own device). I’ve also bought a wi-fi booster for my room that allows me to concentrate properly in a quiet space, uninterrupted by my younger brothers!”

Sport is another of Jamie-Lee’s pursuits that is side-lined for now.  A talented sportswoman, she was playing for the Sydney Roosters’ Under-18 Tarsha Gale team until quarantine put an end to their competition. “I’ll now need to sit out the next season because I have my HSC.  I’m still playing netball though, which is good,” she says.

Next year, she intends to combine her interests in sport and biology at university.  “I’d like to start a Bachelor of Sports and Exercise Science and progress into physiotherapy. I’ll be the first person on my dad’s side to go to uni,” says Jamie-Lee, a proud Dharawal woman. “My Indigenous culture forms part of how I approach the world. I’ve just finished my major work for Aboriginal Studies, and I’m proud to say that Adam (Goodes) is part of it. My major work is a leadership journey.  I’m fortunate that Adam was happy for me to interview him about that.”

Back at school now, Jamie-Lee and her co-School Captain Brandon (who’s also a GO Scholar) start every student assembly with an Acknowledgement of Country. “Leadership is very important to me and becoming School Captain was a goal of mine,” she says. “I’ve always been into public speaking, and I also really enjoy the responsibility of maintaining a good relationship between staff and students.”

There’s another part of her School Captain role that’s close to her heart. “It’s looking after the younger students,” says Jamie-Lee. “I’m involved with the Sista Speak programs.  It’s a chance to sit down with the younger Indigenous students for a chat and make sure they’re doing okay.”

For a time in year 11, it was Jamie-Lee who was not doing okay. “Some new boys had started at school, and they began bullying me. It was bullying to my face, and on social media,” she explains.  “I didn’t really tell anyone, and I certainly didn’t want to tell my parents”

Jamie-Lee did tell her parents and they worked with the school to resolve it. “We all had a big meeting and the boys apologised and it stopped.  It’s okay now and we’re all friends, but I’m a bit more wary of some people as a result,” says Jamie-Lee.

In the midst of it all, Jamie-Lee sought out Adam Goodes at a GO mentoring day for some wise counsel.  “I don’t tend to stick up for myself, and I don’t lash out. I always think of the affect it would have on the other person,” she says. “I had the opportunity to talk to Adam about what was happening.  He gave me the best advice, which was basically saying ‘you’ve just got to keep doing you’ and rise above it.

“The relationships I’ve built with Adam, Michael and Shirley at the GO Foundation are wonderful,” she says. “I would say to students to go ahead and apply for a GO scholarship.  It does make a difference, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself as well.”

Jamie-Lee and her footy team
Jamie Lee and family