Grace Mulley, a Year 12 student at Corpus Christi Catholic High School, Oak Flats, has won the prestigious Zonta International Young Women in Public Affairs Award for 2018.
The Zonta Club of Wollongong presents the award annually around International Women’s Day. Grace received the award on the 25 March at an official ceremony, proudly supported by her mother and teachers from Corpus Christi.
Zonta judge, Jane Pretty, said that Grace was recognised because of her strong sense of social justice and her involvement in several volunteer programs and leadership activities. Zonta believes that young women are the key to women’s advancement in the field of public service, offering the award to recognise young women between the ages of 16 to 19 for demonstrating leadership and commitment to community causes.
“The award is probably the most important one that I have received. It is not only prestigious but affirmation that my attempt to make change and help others is notable which has motivated me to research my next move in driving further change,” Grace said.
Grace describes her participation with Riding for the Disabled in Jamberoo as one of the most fulfilling volunteer roles she's undertaken.
“My initial work was directed at the maintenance of the property and helping to train the horses however as time progressed, I started to assist during lessons and worked with one young girl who absolutely stole my heart. The amount of progress we made together and her interaction and learning in class was amazing to witness, she never failed to make me smile,” Grace said. “I am so incredibly proud of her because despite weekly setbacks, she constantly engaged in the class”.
Grace has been on the Student Representative Council at Corpus Christi for four years and is regularly involved in running school events for World Harmony Day, Refugee Week, Oxfam’s Close the Gap and National Sorry Day, as well as participation in the Duke of Edinburgh International Award program, something that has encouraged her to move out further into the community in a service role.
Corpus Christi Principal, Kerrie Piatek, describes Grace as a mature, articulate and motivated young woman who displays a deep respect for others at all times.
“Grace has outstanding leadership qualities which she exercises through her senior student leadership role as the Chisholm House Leader. Grace has made a real difference to our school community and is admired by all those who come into contact with her,” she said. “Grace’s compassion for others, her intellect and drive to be successful makes her an outstanding role model within and beyond our school community”.
Grace particularly credits Corpus Christi teaching staff as being inspirational, providing leadership opportunities that have played a critical role in her development “It is the particular relationships with teachers and the life lessons they teach day to day that have shaped me the most. They really do care about students as individuals and want to see us succeed and thrive in life after school,” she said.
When asked for her advice for other students considering becoming involved in volunteer service, Grace said “It is important to breakdown social barriers, to strive for the impossible, believe in yourself and others will start to also. The quote that motivated me was ‘If not me-who? If not now-when?’, I am just an ordinary teenager, like any other, and if I can spend even an hour of my busy life helping others and making a difference anyone who is persistent enough can and should try the same.”