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Resilient Tonya fulfils Year 12 dream and becomes a mum

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Falling pregnant during a global pandemic while trying to complete Year 12 is a tough proposition for any student.

Cicilia Begbia

Web Content Display (Global)

But Aboriginal student Tonya Frank showed absolute resilience and determination to fulfil her lifelong dream of completing Year 12 – and create a bright future for herself and baby daughter Violet.

The 17-year-old Mark Oliphant College student had achieved the majority of her 200 credits needed to complete her SACE in Year 11 through her Certificate III Sport and Recreation. But she still needed to complete Essential English, Psychology, and Health in Year 12.

“I fell pregnant in early January 2020 and even though I decided to keep the baby I knew that I wanted to continue going to school and complete Year 12, because I’ve wanted to complete Year 12 all my life,” Tonya said.

“I never thought about dropping out. I wasn’t going to just drop out just because I’ve had a little bit of a change of plans in my life.

“So on the first day of Year 12 I spoke to the school’s wellbeing officer and SACE Achievement Coordinator Daniel Quinlivan about how I could continue going to school and have everything done before September, when Violet was due.”

Tonya embarked on her studies but it wasn’t long until COVID-19 forced her to learn from home.

“It was hard when the COVID-19 lockdown happened. I’m better at working face-to-face with my teachers, and so being at home and only being able to email teachers and getting a response when they were able to, was difficult,” Tonya said.

“When we were in lockdown I relied on dad a lot to help with online learning, because I still needed the face-to-face learning so I got my dad to help me with a lot of it and he was a good support when I was stuck at home. Having dad there was the biggest thing that helped me through it.

“After the lockdown and coming to school pregnant, I wasn’t only worrying about myself, I was worrying about my daughter. I was so anxious a lot of the time because I didn’t know if anyone had it here, whether I would get infected, and my anxiety would pull me away from concentrating on assignments.

“Having the wellbeing officer around to talk to when I hadn’t been feeling the best, helped a lot throughout the year.

“I have always been pretty resilient because I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in my younger years but this year it really showed, because obviously this year I wasn’t expecting to be pregnant, and I wasn’t expecting COVID.”

But Tonya persevered through these challenges to not only complete her SACE, but give birth to daughter Violet in September.