Navigating the transition out of high school is often a vulnerable experience. This is especially so for the Caulfield Grammar graduating Class of 2020, who experienced an incredibly turbulent final schooling year. Grace Waddingham, Class of 2020 Wheelers Hill Co-Captain, reflects on her first 12 months outside the Caulfield Grammar gates.
Adapting to life at Yarra Junction
Grace Waddingham was thrilled at the end of 2020 to accept a position as a Trainee up at Caulfield Grammar’s Yarra Junction Campus for 2021. She loved her experience at the Wheelers Hill Campus, complete with a vast array of opportunities ranging from sport to theatre. She knew giving back to younger generations passing through was going to be a treasured experience.
Whilst 2021 hasn’t looked exactly like the previous YJ experiences, Grace is grateful for the chance she’s had to lead the majority of the Year 7 and 8 programs. Due to covid, the trainees have moved to on-campus care at Wheelers Hill, becoming mentors for the preps and Grade 1s. Still, Grace is thankful for the tangible opportunity she has been given to be engaged with the community and work as a leader.
“We’re incredibly lucky to at least get the opportunity to be up there for most of this year”.
Finding your feet socially after VCE
The difference in social connections that comes with stepping outside of high school has been a big change for Grace. However, Grace’s most valuable experience from the YJ program has been the relationships and connections she has built.
Despite the ups and downs of 2021’s covid spiral, the year has brought her five best mates in her fellow YJ trainees, with she has shared countless memorable life experiences.
“I’m now so much better off with these five amazing people.”
This is an aspect of post-high school life that Grace recommends for others. Finding community and those who will inspire and support you no matter what, is so crucial for personal wellbeing.
Embracing the uncertainty
Despite the turbulent final VCE year she had, Grace Waddingham knew she wasn’t going to leave any opportunity unturned. The instability of 2020 and 2021 has left Grace with a new perspective on opportunities; that each once should be valued and thoroughly explored.
“No matter what opportunities I got this year, no matter what 2021 looks like, I was not going to take it for granted.”
This attitude of making sure she still accessed the opportunities she wanted to, has meant Grace’s 2021 has been full of growth. She recommends this same attitude to the graduating Class of 2021:
“No matter what 2022 looks like, make sure that those opportunities you can find, definitely grab hold of them and really enjoy them”.
Even amongst all the uncertainty, Grace prides herself on doing what is considered scary, unknown, or outside her comfort zone. Doing what you’re unsure of, even if you’re apprehensive about the outcome, brings additional learnings. That even when an experience doesn’t end up exactly suiting you, it can still be a positive lesson. It simply brings you closer to narrowing down the road you want to take.
“Even if you’re getting negative feedback from the experience, you’re still getting feedback about what you need to do and what you want to do in the future”.
Industry opportunities through the CGA
Grace has watched many of her friends feel empowered through their use of the CGA’s industry network. Having contact with past Grammarians boasting industry experience gives young alumni an accessible way to develop their connections. These are the people that Grace now sees thriving in their fields of study, being proactive and building their network.
“No matter what industry that you’re going into after high school, you’re going to find someone in the CGA who is either in the same industry as you or in an industry that will also support you as well.”
Most of all, Grace has found the learning and personal development present in life after Caulfield Grammar so valuable. In leaving a word of advice to the graduating Class of 2021, Grace recommends:
“Get excited, because your future is ahead of you. It’s really fun figuring out the different pathways you want to take and who you are as a person”.
Want to hear more from Grace? Watch her video interview, as she shares her advice for the Class of 2021.
Darcy Brown is another Wheelers Hill alumni who navigated uncertainty before finding his calling. Read about his journey to acting now.