Project K a lift for Sa­cred Heart stu­dent


‘‘I just lacked con­fi­dence that peo­ple would lis­ten to me.’’

‘‘I used to be afraid to speak up at col­lege, now they can’t get me to shut up,’’ says Sor­cha Stempa.

The 16-year-old’s world is a much brighter and more ex­cit­ing place then the one she in­hab­ited 15 months ago.

‘‘I thought I had a lot of great ideas back then but I just lacked con­fi­dence that peo­ple would lis­ten to me.

‘‘I re­mem­ber a cou­ple of times I wouldn’t do a drama de­bate in case I was laughed at.’’

On Wed­nes­day Sor­cha was one of seven Project K graduates to re­ceive na­tional ex­cel­lence recog­ni­tion at the Graeme Din­gle Foun­da­tion’s Awards at Gov­ern­ment House in Auck­land

She was a stand out in the Project K pro­gramme, com­pleted over 15 months with her Sa­cred Heart Col­lege peers.

‘‘This award means a lot to me,’’ she said. ‘‘My con­fi­dence is the big dif­fer­ence, my self trust and aware­ness grew as did how I project my­self on other peo­ple.’’

For Sor­cha, the first Welling- ton award win­ner in seven years, Project K also meant she gained ‘‘a life­long friend’’ in fel­low Sa­cred Heart stu­dent Shreeya Singh.

‘‘In two form years we never got along ... and we’ve be­come the best of friends, in­sep­a­ra­ble.’’

That in it­self had been an im­por­tant les­son, she said.

All Project K stu­dents are teamed up with a one-on-one men­tor.

‘‘My men­tor was Michaela Heron. She’s very po­lit­i­cal, like me, and she took me on my first visit to par­lia­ment.

‘‘We went on day tramps and last year when I was hav­ing trou­ble with some bul­ly­ing she was in con­tact with me ev­ery day. We’re still in con­tact and it’ll re­main that way.’’

Sor­cha’s Project K se­lec­tion, based on a ques­tion­naire and teacher in­put, came at the right time.

‘‘I think a lot of peo­ple come to Year 9 think­ing it’s go­ing to be great but it’s hard work and af­ter that Year 10 can be tough.’’

She is es­pe­cially busy at Sa­cred Heart with de­bat­ing, drama, the col­lege’s Amnesty Club, Duke of Ed­in­burgh and net­ball.

‘‘I’ve be­come far more so­cial and with my net­ball I now get to know my team­mates.’’

She is al­ready look­ing ahead to life af­ter col­lege, study­ing po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at univer­sity and a ca­reer as a se­condary school teacher.

Even later she would like to be in the po­lit­i­cal sphere in some way, she said.

Be­gun in 1995, the Graeme Din­gle Foun­da­tion is a youth char­ity run­ning school-based pro­grammes in­clud­ing Kiwi Can, Stars, Ca­reer Nav­i­ga­tor and Proj- ect K, for thou­sands of young New Zealan­ders.

Other 2017 Project K Ex­cel­lence Award win­ners:

Yashveer Ku­mar, One Tree Hill Col­lege, Auck­land Kaylen Engu Key, Tan­garoa Col­lege, Auck­land Ofa Lave­maau, North­cote Col­lege, Auck­land Amie Marchant, Otu­moetai Col­lege, Bay of Plenty Carta Buck­ley, Mt Maun­ganui Col­lege, Bay of Plenty Emma Jef­fery, Hornby High School, Can­ter­bury

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