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Soaring success for Kirilly

Tuesday 15 December 2020

The flexibility of the SACE has allowed Kirilly Pendergrast to take the perfect flight to her dream job – working with injured birds-of-prey at a native Australian wildlife education centre.

Cicilia Begbia

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The 2020 SACE graduate landed her role at Raptor Domain, an environmental, educational, rehabilitation centre in Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island.
Kirilly studied Stage 2 subjects in Integrated Learning, Creative Arts, Drama, and Essential Mathematics. She also completed a Certificate III in Animal Studies.

But it was at the start of her SACE journey when the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College student began plotting her flight path to working with animals.

“I have always wanted to work with Australian wildlife and so I used my Personal Learning Plan (PLP) in Year 10 to explore career potential pathways.

“I secured a one-week work placement at Gorge Wildlife Park and while I enjoyed my time there, it made me realise I was more interested in conservation and rehabilitation rather than zookeeping.”

Kirilly enrolled in a Certificate I in Animal Studies at TAFE SA, and then undertook a Certificate II Animal Studies in Year 11. She spent a year trying to secure another work placement, which eventually led to a week at Raptor Domain.

Kirilly was tasked with delivering a presentation about a bird by the end of her week. She had to research the bird, write and memorise a script, and train with the bird throughout the week.

“This experience pushed me to be prepared and confident. Going out in front of a crowd with a microphone and a bird after only five days was a big accomplishment that I am really proud of.”

She impressed the owners who offered for Kirilly to come back for a second week-long work placement later that year.

In 2019, Kirilly took part in an exchange to Germany for a year, where she lived with three host families, learned to speak German, travel around

Germany and other parts of Europe, including Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey. She also volunteered at an animal shelter and veterinary clinic.

She returned to complete her SACE in 2020, and also enrolled in a Certificate III in Animal Studies. 

“I feel as though I benefitted from the outcomes of COVID-19. I lost my job when it first happened and that extra time helped me focus on my studies. I was able to go to Kangaroo Island for two weeks working at Raptor Domain in July after my work placement in April was cancelled due to COVID.

“While I was there, I found out that there was a job going, so I approached the owners and said I would love to come and work for you, and luckily they have given me an opportunity.

“I cannot believe at the age of 18 that I have my dream job. I would encourage all students starting their SACE to use Year 10 to their full advantage. You can really begin to explore all your options and potential career pathways, it can really add up.”