Newcastle Jets W-League Player of the Year and winner of the Cheryl Salisbury medal, Clare Wheeler, talks to It Takes a Village about the importance of education and a supportive village.
Clare has been the recipient of a scholarship from the Country Education Foundation – a national not-for-profit organisation helping rural and regional youth access education, training and jobs through grants, scholarships, support services and resources.
How important do you think education is for young people?
Education from high school, TAFE, trade or university is fundamental important to the happiness and well-being for young people and beyond. Its importance cannot be underestimated. With education comes new skills and knowledge that can help young people achieve their dreams or even allow them to realise new opportunities.
We know that having positive influences in their life can help young people stay in school, dream big and achieve big things. Were there people in your life growing up that you believe had a positive impact on you and helped you get where you are today?
My Mother was the only one in her immediate family to go to university whilst caring for my brother and I. In her eyes, university was a means of learning that would open doors and opportunities. Both my parents have made sacrifices to ensure the best for our family.
That’s why the days following my mother’s passing in 2017 I decided to dream bigger.
I took opportunities at Sydney University E12 Program and moved to St Andrews College. This proved to pay dividends as to date I’ve represented Australia at Youth level, participated in the Business’s School LUCY Program and hold a Business School and Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness Scholarship for Academic and Sporting Achievement.
Do you think you would have achieved all the incredible things you have if it weren’t for the positive influences in your life?
‘Experiences make you.’
So with that, I’m truly grateful for the positive influences in my life and also the experiences, good and bad. I believe influences and experiences largely contribute to where I am, who I am and where I am going to go next.
How important do you think it is that people – not just parents and teachers – encourage young people to get a good education and to dream big?
If you don’t learn, you don’t grow.
Henceforth, I think it is crucial that everyone encourages those close to them, to learn and challenge themselves. It’s with these challenges that people can expand their horizons and take on new opportunities otherwise unrealized.
What do you think the future holds for you? What are you excited about?
My future is full of possibilities and that excites me.
Hopefully in the next 12 months I’ll finish my degree and continue playing professional football at Newcastle Jets and from there… well, my imagination is the limit.