Alice dreams of becoming a doctorDecember 7, 2022
Moving 1½ hours away when you’re 16 years old is hard at the best of times. But for Alice and her sisters who live with CatholicCare foster carers, Julie and John, their move coincided with the beginning of a lengthy lockdown. Just as Alice began to navigate her new friendships, teachers and subjects, COVID case numbers soared and school-at-home commenced.
“Alice’s diagnosis of selective mutism makes it extra hard to express emotions and articulate her feelings but, despite the challenges she faced, Alice has thrived.”
Just a year after the big move, Alice has topped her grade in chemistry and business studies and has come 3rd in mathematics and visual arts. She has big dreams for her future, and she is doing all the right things to achieve them.
“I hope to study medicine next year,” Alice says. When her older sister began studying nursing, Alice realised that she also had an interest in health. Her success in chemistry and mathematics prompted her to consider medicine as a study option. Reflecting on Alice’s goal of studying medicine, carer Julie says, “It just makes sense.” But what impresses Julie most about Alice are her many, varied talents. “She studied YouTube and taught herself to bake and decorate cakes … she really has it down to a fine art.” When Alice isn’t cake decorating, she enjoys making art and doing her sister’s makeup. “Everything she does, she does well,” Julie says. “She is a really high achiever.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Alice this year, as she struggled to make friends at her new school. Alice’s Case Manager Daniela says that in recent months, Alice has become more settled. “Her teachers have noticed great improvements in her social skills,” Daniela says. “When she first started she was isolated so it is wonderful to see her interacting with her peers now. Alice has made new friends and she is socialising with them on weekends. Alice’s teachers report that she is also now able to articulate her views and opinions when prompted to do so.”
Alice turns 18 in August and has been accepted into CatholicCare’s Supported Independent Living (SIL) program after she finishes school in December. Alice hopes to live in the Hornsby area, and plans are in place for her to live with her older sister who will share expenses and household duties. Daniela, who advocated strongly for Alice to be accepted into the SIL program, believes that this is the best option for Alice. “She has demonstrated a high level of practical independent living skills, such as using public transport, cooking, doing chores and looking after her physical appearance.”
“Alice and her sister are good emotional supports for each other and living together will assure a smooth transition to the SIL program.” Reflecting on the changes ahead as she turns 18, Alice says she is sad to be leaving her carers of 11 years, but also excited to live in her own place.
Alice identifies her sisters and carers as her go-to people for support. Julie and John are experienced carers who have been fostering for 27 years. Daniela says that “they always promoted education as a priority and offered positive rewards to the girls if they did well at school. Every time Alice and her sisters were shy to talk with a school teacher Julie was always by their side to support them.”
With all the changes on the horizon, Daniela hopes that Alice follows her dream of going to university. “She is a high academic achiever and she loves studying. I hope she never stops believing in herself, and she succeeds in our SIL program, says Daniela.”