In 2013, the Learn Earn Legend School 2 Work program at Parramatta has helped 10 Year 12 Indigenous students create pathways to higher education and employment - and you may even have high-fived one of the dedicated students at an Eels home game!
Passionate about her work, Aboriginal Project Officer, Celeste Bluck, helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years 11 and 12 to create pathways towards post school education and employment goals.
The Learn Earn Legend! NRL School 2 Work (S2W) Program extends across Sydney's West, encompassing the Parramatta Eels, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers and Wests Tigers.
With a 96% success rate, Celeste's work at Parramatta has encouraged students to pursue a whole range of opportunities, including work skills clinics with the game development team at Parramatta during the school holidays, and even volunteering as the Eels mascots Sparky and Sparkles on game day.
One of her highest achievers, Alexandra, was only 12 months ago considering leaving school to enter the workforce. Since participating in the program, she is now graduating year 12 and has been awarded the Reuben F Scarf Award for Commitment.
An aspiring primary school teacher, Alexandra is preparing herself for an early admission interview at Wollongong University.
Celeste says it is a remarkable turn around to see students go from wanting to leave school before they finish to now looking at higher education. She works with the students at setting long-term goals and mapping out pathways towards achieving them.
Alex expressed her gratitude to Celeste by writing to her: "Massive thank you to the School to Work program. So excited for what the future now holds," she wrote.
Another School to Work participant, Bryce, continues to come to skills clinics. He has developed a relationship with the game development team, who look forward to his active involvement during school holidays. Bryce is looking forward to further education at ACPE, where he will be pursuing a career in personal training.
Industry visits to institutions such as the NSW Police Force and the Australian Defence Force have encouraged the kids to work with specific industries. It was an enthusiastic Parramatta supporter who happens to be an Army recruitment officer that changed one student's life.
Prior to meeting Defence Recruitment Officers, he had been reluctant about any career pathway. After the presentation, he decided that he wanted to be a mechanic in the Australian defence force and is now looking forward to enrolling in a Military bridging program upon completion of his HSC.
Celeste says the success of the School to Work program is active involvement with each participant. S2W delivers a tailored program to ensure each individual has every opportunity to reach their dreams.
"S2W is different because it doesn't focus specifically on students who are disengaged from their educations," Celeste says.
"With the resources available to the NRL, we want kids who can engage and run with it."
Students self-nominate for the program and are approved by their school, to build and extend on the commitment and attitude they already demonstrate in their day-to-day schooling.
"They are selected for good attendance, because they demonstrate respect, and are committed to achieving a brighter future," says Celeste.
"Our students are aware of what the S2W program offers, and their eyes have been opened to the opportunities and choices that are available to them."
The Parramatta Eels looks forward to continuing their support to keep the participants in the program motivated and inspired, as they commence their journey toward the HSC and beyond!