Young Hoppers Crossing resident Jade Marikar Bawa, aged 17, is a graduate of MacKillop College in Werribee. Last year, Jade was presented with an award that recognises outstanding local students and young leaders, the Julia Gillard Award. She chats with Alesha Capone.  

How did you feel to receive the Julia Gillard Award?

I was surprised, I actually found out about it before my last exam, which was for Legal Studies. The award was presented at a whole-school assembly by Joanne Ryan. It was unexpected, I didn’t really expect to get it.

What activities were you involved with during your time at MacKillop College?

Throughout my schooling years, I’ve been involved in leadership positions. I was the school’s social justice captain last year, and I’ve been in the SRC a couple of times, class captain, and that sort of thing.

What does the social justice captain role involve?

It’s a pretty wide-ranging role, with a lot of scope. It involves raising awareness of different issues in society, two of the main things we were involved in were R U OK? Day and Harmony Day. We organised parades, put up posters and signs around the school, and make sure people know where to get help for mental health, if they need it. I feel like for some people, they still feel like there is a stigma about seeking help, so opening doors and helping them to realise if’s not that big of a deal is important.

Are you passionate about taking on leadership roles?

I think it’s more trying to help those who feel like they don’t have a voice. The ability to make change and combine your ideas with other people, and improve the place that you’re in.

What are your plans for this year?

I’m working part-time and I also got into my first-preference university course. I’m going to be studying Law and Arts at Deakin, it’s a five-year course.

What career are you hoping to follow?

Hopefully a lawyer, either criminal, or I’m really interested in constitutional and statutory law, that sort of thing. I would like to major in politics and international politics, or criminology.

What do you like most about Hoppers Crossing?

Most of my life, I have been here. My family is here and my friends are here, I went to primary school and high school here – well, secondary school very close by – and every time I leave home I see people that I know and everyone is very friendly.