Koen earns Indigenous Head-Start grant

Published in the July 2016 issue

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Tackling a university subject while still in high school seemed like a worthy goal for footy-mad student Koen Sleba.

With the help of his Banora Point High school careers advisor Jessica Dreyer (pictured) and Southern Cross University Head-Start coordinator Caitlin Burcher, Koen was able to put the right foot forward and keep his eye on the ball.Koen-Sleba-and-Jess-Dreyer_low-res

The 18-year-old student council leader studied the Communications in Organisations unit, a first-year business subject at SCU, while maintaining his Year 12 HSC studies and representative sports commitments.

“At the start I was a bit shaky because I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but as soon as I stepped back and implemented some time management strategies I was able to get the grade I needed,” Koen said.

“I was one of three Head-Start students from my school who went to the SCU Gold Coast campus every Wednesday afternoon and it worked out so well in the end.

“It has helped me to know what to expect at university and what is expected of me – it has made me more eager to study there.”

As a senior school councillor, Koen runs assemblies, school meetings and makes event speeches.

He recently took part in Lions Youth of the Year, coming second with an impassioned speech. Koen spoke about the importance of not judging people from what they look like, “because everyone has a story and there is no room for people to judge others on their appearance”.

Representative sporting commitments have also seen Koen play touch football for the NSW school side, and he was recently picked to don the jersey again this September.

Koen was one of four recipients of the new Head-Start Indigenous Study Grants. His successful completion of the SCU Head-Start program gives him direct entry to study a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science at Southern Cross University when he finishes high school.

“The University has helped me a lot through the Head-Start program and with the early entry which takes the pressure off a little bit,” he said.

“One day I might like to start my own business or work as a strength and conditioning coach with a team like the Gold Coast Titans.”

His careers advisor Jessica Dreyer, who is the school’s senior Indigenous coordinator, said Koen was the ‘complete package’ as an academic and sports leader and a great friend and role model to others.

“He shows great leadership to the younger students and has been a part of the SRC (Student Representative Council) since Year 7,” she said.

“Once he was able to settle in and get familiar with the campus and meet other people, the weekly routine worked very well – and he had great support from Caitlin on campus to keep him on track.”

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