NRL's School to Work Program supporting high school transitions
The transition from high school to the "real world" may present a tough challenge for students, but not for Rachel Carswell, who could look to her NRL School to Work Project Officer for guidance and support.
Rachel jumped on board in 2017 as a participant of the program while completing her Queensland Certificate of Education at Pimpama State Secondary College.
After graduating from high school, Rachel enrolled into TAFE where she is undertaking a Certificate II in Animal Studies and a Certificate III in Captive Animals.
After a successful application, the 18-year-old also took part in the Indigenous Employment Program with AccorHotels that would secure her a casual position at the Novotel in Southbank as a Food and Beverage Attendant.
Rachel told NRL.com it was the mentoring of her project officer, Melissa Lightburn, that steered her in the right direction.
"Mel helped me discuss my goals and to decide if that's the path I wanted to take," Rachel said.
"Without Mel's help and the School to Work team I would not have started my possible career path so soon."
Melissa has been a project officer for the Gold Coast Titans since July last year.
And while high schools don't offer students further support after graduating, Melissa believes the School to Work Program is vital in the students' transition from school to further education or employment through the opportunities presented to them.
"I don't think a lot of students are prepared for how challenging that period of transition can be," Melissa said.
"That's where our program plays a massive part in helping and supporting them through that transition.
"For me it's being able to offer the students opportunities and just showing them all the options that are available to them and giving them the skills and techniques to have a successful transition.
"While also continuing to empower them to take those opportunities and make something of it."
Proud of the growth that Rachel has shown, Melissa highlighted her open-mindedness to new opportunities as the key to her successful transition.
"Rachel's one of my most engaged students," Melissa said.
"I've seen Rachel's confidence grow since she came on board last year. She's always willing to take on new opportunities and is open to trying new things.
Rachel was rewarded for her commitment to the program as she got the opportunity to take part in the coin toss for Indigenous Round at Suncorp Stadium when the Titans took on the Storm.
The School to Work Program is also excelling in Sydney with project officer Scott Morgan guiding two young students, Keiran Campbell and Koori Minto, to help them designed the jerseys St George Illawarra wore for Indigenous round.
They were special guests at the jersey presentation where they were acknowledged by the Dragons team, who had chosen their unique cultural design for their round 10 jersey when they took on South Sydney.
With the combined support of the NRL clubs and Australian Government, the School to Work team is continuing to work towards closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.