Two St Mary’s College scholarship recipient students have carried their skills into the real world, excelling in their university studies and paving the way to inspire future students to follow in their footsteps. Juanne Ignacio first attended St Mary’s as a Year 8 student in 2013, after she was granted a Catholic Scholarship which the Head Priest at her local church, Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral, urged her to apply for. Ms Ignacio said her high school experience at St Mary’s prepared her well for the future. “It was really memorable, I was lucky to make strong friendships and it really set me up for my journey heading into university,” she said. During her final year in 2017, Ms Ignacio took on the role of Head Girl, which she said was a big responsibility. “I became a role model which people looked up to and was responsible for organising school meetings, gathering suggestions and improvements on behalf of my peers,” she said. Ms Ignacio’s passion for knowledge fuelled her desire to attend university from a young age and she chased her dreams all the way to Curtin University in Perth. Aged 17, Ms Ignacio rented a small unit alone for the first year of her studies, before her family made the move from Broome down to Perth. “It was nerve-racking, not only did I have to become accustomed to a whole new place, but to city life too,” she said. “But living independently taught me so much and my classmates made it so easy.” Currently in the third year of her Bachelor of Architecture, Ms Ignacio said it was her upbringing which led her to her field of study. “I was born in the Philippines and we lived up in the mountains, I remember literally sleeping on the floor, we had no ceiling, no windows and our house was made out of wood,” she said. “Living in a third world, poverty stricken country, we didn’t have adequate housing and I guess that got me thinking about buildings from a young age.” Now smashing goals at uni, Ms Ignacio’s major projects have been selected to feature in the end of year exhibition for two years in a row. Ms Ignacio said she was motivated to use her degree to design adequate building solutions for people in the Philippines. “I want to give back to my family, that is my drive and I can see myself travelling places and expanding my knowledge further,” she said. The future is bright for Ms Ignacio, who will focus her energy on completing her two year master’s degree after graduation this year. Another student kicking goals is Isaiah McKenna, who first walked through the doors of St Mary’s as a year two student after her family relocated to Broome from South Australia. In 2018 Ms McKenna was awarded an academic scholarship, travelled to Melbourne for a cultural exchange and flew to Perth for youth parliament. “I was public speaking in front of hundreds of people, I was debating Bills about fracking in the Kimberley and my Bill was passed on to the Premier,” she said. Appointed head girl in 2020, Ms McKenna said her final year of high school was stressful as she balanced the new position with study while also working four different jobs. “I felt proud to be representing Indigenous students in the role and I focused on empowering them as much as I could,” she said. Currently in her first year of university, Ms McKenna is studying a Bachelor of Law and Society at the University of Western Australia and recently secured entry to study a Juris Doctor postgraduate degree in 2024. Ms McKenna said studying law gave her a good grasp on the world and issues facing humanity. “Being from Broome I’ve seen the social issues facing Australia and the result of trauma, neglect and abuse,” she said. The young woman said she was passionate about helping Indigenous Australians and educating communities. “I am interested in native title laws and intellectual property laws, because I think protecting Indigenous art and small businesses is so important,” she said. “I’m passionate about these issues because I wake up and live them.” Ms McKenna said moving to Perth was overwhelming but taught her valuable lessons. “I do miss being able to walk across the street to my grandma’s house,” she said. “But I made the committent to myself and it has made me so much more mature and certainly given me a greater appreciation for family.” With exciting endeavours ahead, Ms McKenna will look to work with Indigenous communities in future.