Kayla is living proof that having a goal and staying focused will take you further in life than anything else! Despite facing countless challenges along the way, she has never lost sight of her dreams, reaching her goal of graduating, pursuing further education, and starting a career in the finance sector. At Cire, we are privileged to be part of her journey and cheer her on every step of the way as she takes on new heights of success. Kayla’s story is a true inspiration, proving that, with hard work, resilience, and a positive mindset, anything is possible. Her bright future reminds us that the key to achieving our dreams is staying focused and never giving up.
Q. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Cairns, and when I started school, I was a very bright, smart kid. I found passion in maths and science, those subjects just clicked with me, and I loved the certainty that A plus B always equals C. But writing was different. It was subjective, and you could easily get it wrong with spelling, grammar, or punctuation. I didn’t enjoy it, and I always felt that it wasn’t fair. That’s why I stuck to maths. It made sense to me, and I was good at it.
I went to a high school in Cairns, and I was happy there until one day, while in year nine, I was viciously attacked by three Year 11 girls. It was traumatic and painful for me, but filing a police report didn’t help the situation, so I decided to change schools and go to Redlynch to start fresh. I loved it there, but I also fell into the wrong crowd and made some poor decisions. My parents and I grew apart during this time, and it would only get worse.
Q. Do you feel comfortable talking about that time?
Yes, I’m an open book. By telling my story, I believe it will help others, and I’m all for that. My relationship with my parents wasn’t good, which led to them kicking me out. I lived with my grandparents, followed by my aunt and uncle, but things didn’t improve.
This was a time in my life when I felt utterly lost. It seemed like I was caught in a never-ending battle with my own mental health. Depression, anxiety, and the presence of suicidal thoughts consumed me. It felt as though life had lost its purpose, and I questioned the point of waking up each day. As my struggles intensified, I found myself making one poor decision after another until I eventually ended up homeless. It was during this challenging period that I experienced a truly humbling moment – spending a night sleeping in a boat in my friend’s dad’s garage.
The following day I found myself speaking to the Wellbeing Officer, but unfortunately, they didn’t have many solutions to offer me at such a young age. You see, I was just 13, and the only available option seemed to be a shelter. However, I was too young to qualify, as the minimum age requirement was 16. With no other alternatives in sight, I made the decision to move to Melbourne and stay with my aunt in Coldstream, who offered to book me a flight. I jumped on the plane the next day and have been living in Melbourne ever since.
When I first moved down here, I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t attend school for a few months. It was a turbulent time, and I needed some space to settle in. Everything felt uncertain and up in the air. I knew I wanted to continue with my education, so my aunt suggested a local high school that my cousin attended. It seemed like a logical choice. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for me to realise that it wasn’t the right fit for me. From day one, I felt out of place.
I vividly remember being told I was too much of a distraction because I didn’t wear the school jumper. The truth was, I didn’t own one because I didn’t have the money to purchase one at that time. It was incredibly disheartening, and it made me question everything. It felt like all the progress I had made was suddenly lost.
No one seemed interested in being friends, and the sense of community I expected was nowhere to be found. It was a tough few months, but it taught me the importance of finding a school where I truly belonged.
Sounds like this was when your Cire journey started?
My cousin told me about Cire Community School. She said two of her friends went there, and it might be a good fit for me. During the enrolment process, I met a teacher who would become my mentor. From the moment I met Megan, she knew what I was going through and was always there for me. She was an incredible teacher with a passion for hairdressing and the beauty industry. Megan’s teaching style was strict, but she was also incredibly caring. For me, this was exactly what I needed in my life – someone who could provide structure while also offering a deep level of understanding and support.
I wasted no time in completing all the necessary paperwork. Within a week, I was enrolled and starting at Cire. I remember my first week when we were engaged in some math lessons. During break time, we came together as a class and cooked a delicious soup. It was such a heart-warming experience that made me realise the depth of community and care fostered there. You know, whatever problems were happening in my home life, it didn’t really matter when it came to school. It was such a positive environment that you were always fed. You were always cared for. You always had the opportunity to actually get to know each other for who you are, and you’re not just a student.
I had the opportunity to explore what was on offer, giving me room to grow. Initially, I embarked on a hairdressing apprenticeship, only to realise that it wasn’t for me. However, my thirst for knowledge persisted, leading me to complete Certificate III in Community Services. Finally, in 2021, I graduated from year 12. It was during this transformative period that I made the decision to pursue my studies further and reignite my love for numbers and mathematics.
Q. So, what happened next?
In 2022, my career started to take shape with the support of free TAFE and JobTrainer. I was off to Swinburne TAFE to pursue my passion for Accounting and Bookkeeping, starting with the completion of my Certificate IV Bookkeeping and Accounting, followed by the Diploma of Accounting. Today, I am proud to be working full-time as a bookkeeper.
But I didn’t stop there. My thirst for knowledge prompted me to continue my studies. I made the decision to pursue a Bachelor of Business, specialising in Accounting and Financial Planning, still at Swinburne. This was made possible because I was successful at obtaining three scholarships and a grant. Out of the eight recipients, I was among the fortunate ones awarded $10,000, which completely covered my first year of university tuition fees. I am forever grateful for this incredible support.
What are your future aspirations?
Completing my Bachelor degree and even pursuing a Masters in accounting could be an option. The possibilities seem endless, with various career paths, such as becoming an Auditor or a Financial Planner. However, it is the role of a Forensic Accountant that truly caught my eye. Catching the bad guys, investigating fraud, and making a difference in the world excited me like nothing else. It’s not a typical job that everyone pursues, which made it all the more intriguing. I firmly believe my hard work is leading me in the right direction, setting the stage for me to achieve my dream of whatever I put my mind to.
How about on a personal level?
I rekindled my relationship with my mum. In the beginning, the progress was a slow-burn. But as time went on, things gradually improved.
There has been plenty of ups and downs – we had our fair share of disagreements and misunderstandings. However, I count myself fortunate to now have my parents back in my life. Many others are not as lucky. I worked really hard to get to where I am now, and I had to prove myself to my mum to rebuild our relationship.
I finally obtained my driver’s license and, with my mum’s assistance, managed to save enough money to purchase my very own car. With her continued help, I even secured a two-bedroom apartment in Bayswater. Things were on the up, and I was gaining both independence and a reliable support system.
I’ve faced some tough challenges that tested my resilience. These experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, someone who doesn’t give up easily. When I think back to those uncertain times, I remember the support I received from Cire. They ensured that I felt secure, asking me thoughtful questions like, “Do you have somewhere to stay tonight?” and “Do you need any extra support?” It was during those moments that I truly felt cared for. Their genuine concern made all the difference in the world to me, and I thank them for that.
Megan’s mentor and Cire Community School teacher Megan Small had this to say:
“It is truly heart-warming to hear about Kayla’s success and how she has been able to make significant strides towards achieving her goals. As a teacher, there is nothing quite like witnessing your students grow and thrive; this news fills me with joy. At Cire, we strongly believe that with high expectations and a compassionate approach to teaching, we can empower students to break out of their comfort zones and take charge of their own learning. We are proud to have been a part of Kayla’s journey and will continue to support and guide all of our students in their pursuit of success.”
Kayla’s educational journey is nothing short of inspiring. Through all the difficulties she has faced, her drive and determination have shone through. Starting at Cire Community School, Kayla never lost sight of her goals and continuously worked towards them with unrelenting dedication. Her perseverance has paid off by continuing her studies at Swinburne University to increase her future prospects. It’s always heartening to see someone overcome the odds, and Kayla has shown us all what’s possible with sheer willpower and the right support. We couldn’t be more proud of her, and we wish her all the very best.
Click here, if you would like to know more about Cire Community School.