Following are extracts from the graduation speech of Slade Hayward, a Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success participant and the first Indigenous student to graduate Year 12 at Dalyellup College in Bunbury:
“Good evening I’m Slade Hayward; I have been living here in Bunbury for the past two years and I have had the honour of being the very first indigenous student to graduate from Dalyellup College, being part of the class of 2014. I was born in Joondalup, Perth on the 12th of May 1997. My Mother is from a tribe in the Gulf-Carpentaria region of the Northern territory known as Garawa and my Father comes from two different tribes, the Nyiyaparli from the Pilbara region and the Noongar from the south-west region.
During the two years of me being at Dalyellup College I have been involved in the Follow the Dream Program which has just been a huge privilege.
It is because of their great support and dedication to see me get through upper school that I have been able to graduate with good results.
The Follow the Dream has allowed me to develop relationships with my teachers/tutors, hence enabling me to focus more intensely to my studies, and I will go as far as to call them my friends.
During the first year of upper school in 2013 I was unprepared for the endeavours of ATAR and my attitude towards studying & attending school was reflected in the low grades and marks that I attained that year. It was after school ended that year that I realised I had to step up my game and start working hard in order to get where I want to be.
During the Christmas holidays when I received my report card and exam results I made myself a promise. This promise I made was to; work hard, study hard, do all the work that was given to me, go to tutoring on a regular basis, pass all my courses and to never miss a day of school.
I will say however, it was not easy but because of all the help and support I received from Follow the Dream by James Skoda, Jane King, Jonathan Miller, Craig Gaulton and other teachers who were not involved in the Follow the Dream Program but never the less they were able to keep me focused and stay on track. It was their words of encouragement and hours of work they had to put in to make sure that not only me but every other student not only pass school but have all the skills and knowledge we need to make it out in the world today. I guess that really shows you just how important teachers are to a teenagers’ future.
I am a big fan of Steven Spielberg’s movies, and the reason I am telling you this is because only a few years ago he gave a speech and says something in it that caught my attention, I would like to share what he said; he says that “teaching may be the noblest profession in the world today and perhaps may be the most underpaid heroes in the world today.” Those words he spoke gave me a really big appreciation for they do and just from those words every time I went to school I can see just how heroic they were.
As I mentioned before I did not do so well in my first year, in fact all the support and help I received this year was more or less the same as all the help and support I received last year. The only difference between why I did well this year and not so well last year, is that I was willing to work hard this year. See you can have all the opportunities, all the help and all the support right there in front of you and still fail but as long as you keep working hard you will never fail. I believe failure only comes to those who give up to early or to those who are too lazy to do anything about their circumstances. I have no problem in admitting that I was a failure in year 11, but I learnt from my mistakes and discovered that there is no substitute for hard work and nothing worth having comes easy.
There is a girl in my class of year 12’s and although she might not believe me I look up to her allot. Her name is Beanca Van Der Merwe, during our graduation ceremony she received awards for dux, math, English and physics and it was only recently that I asked her just how much study she puts in to all her work and she replied “I study about 5 hours a day, I would dedicate half of a Saturday to study and worked 6 hours a week” She then goes on to say “I just prioritised, so instead of going to parties I’d stay home and study.” My reaction to her telling me this was, you deserve it, you deserve those awards, and those awards are tributes to just how hard you have worked.
What I have achieved within myself and from the support of the Follow the Dream Program and the commitment of the tutors and my teachers is as follows; I have attained direct entry into a University Preparation Course at Edith Cowan University which will lead into Mechanical Engineering. I have also matured & became more disciplined and developed a sense of self confidence and greater pride; in addition I have attained 100% attendance this year, become the first Indigenous student to graduate from Dalyellup College, attain a WACE, and undertake ATAR.
In conclusion I can definitely state that the harder you work the more you will achieve.”